Artist

Alexander Averin

Friday, 28 December 2007

Three things enjoyed today.





Musical tracks I have enjoyed today. ( more below on separate entries).


First is Rod Stewart singing The First Cut is the Deepest.







Below are:

Three quotes from a favourite poet of mine, (yes I am sure you know it is Yeats).


Three gorgeous pictures by the artist, Trudi Finch.





A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, our stitching and unstinting has been naught."









But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."





"A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love."






Crucify, Tori Amos

Mad World, Gary Jules

Something Else by Gary Jules


Something Else Lyrics

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Random Acts of Kindness


Dear Diary,

It is 16th December 2007. However, there are only thirty minutes left of this day and one thing is for sure, it will never come again. It is the day that bloggers all over the world have been asked to perform (and record) a random act of kindness.





I have had a quiet and very restful Sunday. I’ve hardly performed any acts at all apart from venturing out a few times with tasty morsels for my garden birds and to exercise the dogs. I haven’t been anywhere, well only a quick flight down to the local garage to get a Sunday paper. I didn’t get much of a chance to be kind there, apart from exchanging a few kind-I-hope words with a neighbour. The outdoor temperature has been only a degree above freezing, with a biting wind, so, like most people around here I would imagine, I’ve stayed indoors and spent time curled up on the sofa by the woodburner. A really lazy Sunday.

I have sent healing thoughts to someone in need. Three people n need in fact. I hope that each will qualify as an act of kindness? And I have asked others to do the same in one instance, hoping perhaps that it will increase the power with a wonderful ripple effect, the much needed pattern that will hopefully change this world for the better. After all this is the purpose of the appointed day of kindness.

I was also meditating on kindness and working out why only some people are drawn to be so. I remember a hymn I sang as a child in junior school. I loved hymns, little did I know it was mainly the words that attracted me so and unbeknown to me at the time, a love affair with poetry was in its infancy.

One hymn I really loved singing was this one below, written of course by William Blake. I love his poetry now but as a child it was just a hymn I had to sing at school. His words struck a chord in my sensitive soul and the first verse especially stayed with me throughout my life.




On Another's Sorrow
A Song of Innocence


Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear --

And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give his joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not year.

Oh He gives to us his joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

William Blake





Another poem by Blake that I love is this one:




The Divine Image

A Song of Innocence



To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of of delight
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,
Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.



Learned readers will notice that I have taken a line out of the last verse which nowadays would be construed as extremely racist! (Not that Blake was being racist, rather the opposite).


I’ll sign off now but before I do I would like to mention the power of thought. If we can’t actually do anything to help another because the opportunity is not always there, we can always think kind, positive thoughts. They carry energy and have tremendous power.







And always remember to be kind to yourself as well.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Caitx

Friday, 14 December 2007

Peace for Life not just for Christmas



Some people may have not noticed the words that follow. They are not mine. They are the words of Blossom.

I reproduce them, with the author’s permission, along with a very fine poem by the dear late John Denver as they were a comment on my previous blog.


Your reference to the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan made me think of the Guard of Honour at my niece’s recent wedding. They were all wearing their medals with pride and I asked one young solider what it had been like. He replied:

" I held my best friend in my arms when he died"

There is no answer to that.

I was a great admirer of John Denver and saw him play several times but the moment that stands out in my mind most was when in almost complete darkness, baring a small and pale light, he recited this poem:

Peace Poem

There's a name for war and killing
there's a name for giving in
when you know another answer
for me the name is sin
but there's still time to turn around
and make all hatred cease

and give another name to living

and we could call it peace

And peace would be the road we walk
each step along the way
and peace would be the way we work
and peace the way we play

And in all we see that's different
and in all the things we know

peace would be the way we look
and peace the way we grow

There's a name for separation
there's a name for first and last
when it's all for us or nothing
for me the name is past

but there's still time to turn around
and make all hatred cease
and give a name to all the future
and we could call it peace

And if peace is what we pray for
and peace is what we give
then peace will be the way we are
and peace the way we live

Yes there still is the time to turn around
and make all hatred cease
and give another name to living
and we can call it peace

John Denver



The soldier’s words at the wedding brought tears to my eyes. They speak volumes and will stay with me forever.

I am called to put his words into a poem. For every soldier in the world, especially in an illegal and immoral invasion, is someone’s best friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son.

You could add women to the equation but to my mind women and warfare should never be in harmony. Women bring life into the world, call me sexist or old fashioned if you like but I believe our role should always be that of the peacemaker, our pathway one of nurture and protection.

Below is a video of John Denver reciting the Peace Poem.





Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Pictures, Reflections, Resonance and Imagination

This picture I sent to a fellow blogger today; it is her birthday and her name is Crystal, I felt it suited her 'mystical' personality. I love it too.



Are you like me? I find it hard to give people a present unless I love it myself? And then sometimes I buy something for someone else and want to keep it!


This one was sent to another very special cyber friend who also has a birthday today. I wanted her to feel the pleasure in this picture, the warmth, the peace and the relaxation that I get from it. Everyone has loved these two paintings so I have posted them here.






This is me (in my imagination!) wearing my long red skirt and doing what I would have liked to have been doing on this freezing December day. It is an Irish coastline of course and it is midsummer, in West Cork maybe?






I sent this picture to my daughter this morning. Something about it reminded me of her and my youngest granddaughter E, aged six. V doesn't look like the mother in the pic but she holds her head to one side in that manner. I went to see the two youngest girls in their Christmas school play last night, they did Dickens' wonderful story, A Christmas Carol. S was Christmas Present and E was a dancing child. S, aged nine, sang a beautiful solo, I was very proud, (grannies are allowed to brag!).





The artist for these last three is Vladimir Volegov.


I have been watching on TV news those poor soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and thinking that they will never get over their experiences. I have also been thinking of those who were sacrificed and will never come home and feeling so sorry for their poor loved ones.

I found these two quotes recently.


War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.

Charles E Hughes

The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. Peace, no less than war, requires idealism and self-sacrifice and a righteous and dynamic faith.

John Foster Dulles



My daughter sent me this Siegfried Sassoon quotation this morning. She found it while researching for an essay she is writing. Read it and see if it rings any bells with you, it certainly did with me.



"I AM making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.,

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."


Siegfried L. Sassoon...July 1917

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Dear Cait, Aged 13, The Adopted Child


Dear Cait, I hope you will heed my advice and trust me because only I understand how lost, isolated and ‘different’ you feel. I do understand the reasons behind your shyness, your reserve. When you came into this world you chose a difficult path, but keep in mind that suffering will bring you inner strength and spiritual growth. Hang in there, things will get better once you discover who you are. NEVER GIVE UP searching, but I don’t need to say those three words to you do I? Nothing in life matters. Only love. Always remember this. The Beatles will be saying it soon in a song, I know you are a great fan of theirs. Don’t get hung up on any ‘small stuff’. Only kindness matters, (that too will be a song title one day!). Treat others as you would like to be treated. Believe in yourself, You are beautiful and clever, even if no-one has ever told you so. Don’t worry about doing well in every subject at school, if you hate science, maths, geography, history, hockey, so what? (At least history will become fascinating when you are my age). You have been lucky enough to pass the eleven-plus and go to a good school. Enjoy the many things you will learn there.. You will also leave being able to write proper English (having learned to read, spell and recite your tables prior to getting there). These basic skills are sadly lacking nowadays. Devote your life to your passions. ‘Follow your bliss’ as they say. You are becoming a teenager at a very exciting time. Everything is changing, exploding even; the class system, music, art, fashion, politics, sexual liberation……there may not be a time of such positivity again in this country, so make the most of it. I know you love music and that it has saved you, along with your books of course. They will both be your lifelong companions. Keep writing. Cultivate your psychic gifts, don’t hide them away. Always trust your intuition. I know you have no confidence at all and you feel terribly self-conscious all the time; this will pass and when you are my age you won’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. Stop hiding your body. Don’t worry about being painfully thin and having such long and skinny legs, for very soon it will be in fashion! I know you love babies and children, one day you will become a mother and it will be the happiest day of your life. You will be a grandmother one day too and that will bring you such joy, I cannot tell you. There will always be a guardian angel or two watching over you, along with our dear Irish mother. Make the most of every moment and focus on the positive. Turn every negative into a positive; it is possible. Don’t dread getting middle-aged or even old. The best is yet to come. Go mbeannai Dia duit, All my love, Caitx
PS I see you are reading Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, I warn you, it will change your life!

Retail Therapy and More


















Hay on Wye
Town of Books




















Christmas gift suggestions

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”


Oren Arnold




Dear Diary,

I wake early to another monsoon day in spite of having gone to bed at 2.30 am.

Sundays have the best mornings. I creep down to let the dogs out and make the tea as my ‘tea-man’ seems to be on strike. Because of the extremity of the weather conditions K, the collie, seems reluctant to venture out so needs a little ‘coaxing’. It only takes a bit of encouragement using my ‘firm’ voice, that’s all you need to train dogs, tone of voice. As soon as I’ve made my tea (well-honeyed of course) I let both dogs in again. K is crouching under the back step, most unusual for her, does she know that even worse weather is forecast for today?

Back in bed I don warm socks and take up my pen and pad. Looking out of the window I have a direct view to the river and can see the dipper in my line of sight, dipping and diving (you can see how they got their name), swimming out, swimming back, a sure sign that there are fish-a-plenty in the waters again. We always ’rejoice’ when we see the dippers because of the egg that is taken from their nest each year by the academic folk from Cardiff who come trespassing and poaching eggs (excuse the pun). I wrote rather an irate blog about it last spring.

They are such clever birds in that they find the little shallow areas in the stream where the current flows into the bank and avoid the really rapid flowing parts where they wouldn’t stand a chance were they to venture in when the river is in flood. They would soon be in Herefordshire, swept along at a rate of knots.

A little later, when the dipper has gone, I see there is a wild mallard duck fishing in exactly the same spot, they are not seen very often so I am always excited when they swim past. There are certainly fish in the river! (I know that the salmon have been up recently).

I’ve been set a task by Snailbeach Shepherdess to write a letter to myself at the age of thirteen. Such a good idea. I did in fact once write a draft letter to myself as a child, as part of a book I am writing at the moment. I may have thrown the letter away though so I shall have to delve amongst my piles of papers. I believe it’s used by psychologists as a kind of therapeutic tool to make contact with your inner child. They are certainly fascinating to read and also to write. I shall work on this task and make it my next blog entry.

I am on annual leave from work at the moment as I have a lot owing to me and thought I would take it as I have the aforementioned book-writing project to finish; it’s part of my OCA course.


I went to Hay-on-Wye on Saturday with B, a dear Irish friend of mine; brollies in hand we braved the elements and indulged in some retail therapy. We were mainly browsing, not seriously Christmas shopping, but managed to find a few treasures along the way and spoilt ourselves as well - we both bought woollen hats, the same style but in different colours, mine is a sort of airforce blue and B’s a creamy kind of colour. They are both adorned with coloured flowers and tassles, they sound horrendous don’t they, but in fact they are really pretty (and warm). I shall post a photo of mine that M has kindly just taken.

















We went to a local garden centre at around tea-time, had a cuppa in the café there and then a bit more retail therapy was called for. I bought some bargain books for presents. B bought me a gorgeous poinsettia plant, she is very naughty.


Then it was off to the Hollybush Inn, the place I mentioned a few blogs ago, to meet up with our husbands for drinks and a meal and to listen to Sammy G (Samuel Gomm) a singer/songwriter from Holland, originally from Welshpool in Powys.



Hollybush Inn, Hay-on-Wye


We expected a wonderful meal and we were not disappointed. B’s husband is a chef, cookery teacher, food writer and used to have his own restaurant so I would not recommend anywhere to him if I did not feel confident. The music was superb too, Samuel’s voice is wonderful, far better than lots of ‘famous’ recording artists. I wish my son had been able to come and listen, he too is a singer/songwriter.





Blessings before I go?

Hay-on-Wye, one of my favourite little towns because it is filled with bookshops and other enticements at every turn.

Friends, laughter, good company.

Food

Singers of songs

Poets

Tellers of Tales.



I’ll sign off now, the day that lies ahead is free and I have lots of writing to do.

But first I have to pen a few words to a shy young teenager,

I have such a lot to tell her.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Sammy Squirrel

Posted by Picasa

Just Blessings and a Poem



The whole life of man is but a point of time, let us enjoy it.
Plutarch 46 AD-120 AD




Dear Diary,


I haven’t written of Blessings for so long, or posted a poem, so I shall be doing both today.


Blessings……… first for a change.


Time. This is a gift we would all like for Christmas really and surely it is the one thing that most of us crave more of. I feel a New Year resolution coming on, a bit soon perhaps, but I think I shall be seeking ways to save more time for myself in the future, as in our modern lives I see it as the most precious commodity.


The slow movement has much to commend it. Slow food, slow time, soft time indeed. Anyone read the book by Gill Edwards entitled Pure Bliss? It is a great book about this very subject and the word soft that she uses to describe time is an appropriate adjective. I too love dreamy time, meditative time, daydreaming.


Talking of dreamy time, I went to a Richard and Judy roadshow for children recently, the only one held in Wales. It took place at the very fine Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells. Three children’s authors were talking about their books which are on the R & J shortlist. I took two of my granddaughters and K was especially pleased as Cathy Cassidy, one of K’s favourites, was one of the writers. I would also add that her books are great favourites with the girls at my library.


I was pleased to see that there were lots of children there and they had the opportunity to ask the authors questions. Cathy spoke about daydreaming and how it had helped her become a writer - she actually thought that daydreaming should be part of the schools’ curriculum. A girl after my own heart if ever there was one.


Everyone says that this year has flown by. I have never known twelve months pass so quickly and I worry that this phenomenon will worsen each year. I've come to the conclusion that time only quickens when we pack too much into it, so that only leaves us one solution doesn’t it? If we persist with our need for everything to be presented to us quickly and our almost-lust for speed both in our mode of travel and in every action taken from dawn to dusk, what chance have we of making time pass more slowly?

It is only when you meditate on time that you realise that actually it doesn’t really exist; time is a man-made linear thing, There is only the Present and that is the precious gift that we are erasing, in our constant struggle, as we rush, rush, rush.


Wild Weather.

Even our river is rushing past and white horses race by upon her. The wind is blowing a gale and if it’s this bad in our sheltered valley, I know it will be much worse higher up in the hills. I enjoy these wild extremes of weather and am a self-confessed lover of rain. Today it falls in torrents and is pounding on the roof. Bliss! I hate weather that just ‘sits’; those dull, still, grey days, they are the worst.


Colour.

The cottage smells of gloss paint and it’s making me feel quite lousy. The emulsion doesn’t affect me but the fumes from the gloss paint give me a sick and headachy feeling. There is no escape though if I want more colour in my life.


I now have a rich red kitchen and I love it. Like a scarlet woman she comes into her own at night when she really shows off her warmth and passion. It suits this time of year of course and someone even described it as very Christmassy (ouch!).


There will be no more painting now for a while as I have nearly banished all my white walls. Only my bedroom and what we call the wash-house remain so and three quarters of the little room upstairs that we call the study. (One of its walls is pretty pink). I have a sexy pink bathroom with blue beams, a honey gold snug and sitting room and a pink guest cum ‘music room‘.


Bargain Finds.


M and I had to go to a local market town this week and though it was raining very heavily we managed to do a wee bit of shopping. I went into an Air Ambulance charity shop and found two beautiful old china tureens, tea plates, dessert dishes and a large oval plate (Fantasia, dusky pink floral). In another tiny shop I fell in love at first sight with a Nomad, burgundy coloured, long-sleeved midi dress and most unusual, I just bought it, without even trying it on. I told myself if it didn’t fit I would either return or see if my daughter wanted it but when I got home and slipped it on it fitted perfectly.
My Christmas present to myself, I always treat myself to one. I hope you do too.


This town also has a good butcher’s shop and we bought some of their award-winning pork and leek bangers and a couple of their tasty Welsh cheeses.


My final blessing? Photographs. I should really have mentioned this one before. I’m going to start posting some of our own pics, mainly they will be M’s as he is the photographer in the family.


Before I go I promised a poem, I hope you like this one. It’s from the latest Salmon collection, the Irish publishers. See the link on this page.


The Day The Horizon Disappeared


Cast out, flung to the furthest rim of neediness,
then caught there in the branches of the danger tree,
where meaning dwells, out of reach, attached
on its green stem at the very edge of dreaming,
a sign repeating itself through branches
surging in air. Wind surrounds and blows through us.
And whose hand is tearing strips from the sky,
And whose hand will seed wild grasses
on the worn nap of the threadbare world?

Nadia Aysenburg


I’ll sign off now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Friday, 30 November 2007

Christmas: A Daughter's View.



My daughter and I have been having a bit of a 'discussion' about Christmas. Now I am a Grown-Up I freely admit that my middle name is Scrooge and I despise the commercialism of this time of year with its emphasis on spending and the material.

V is doing her best to remind me of the magic of the season which I agree is still there for children.


I have taken the liberty of copying the email she has just sent me.

The question I asked was What IS Christmas?


An extract below:


tradition, history, innocence (well my kids have it), occasion, family get togethers, wrapping paper, tinsel, ribbon, colour, lights, trees lit-up and decorated; inside and out, the smell of pine needles and woodsmoke, magic, anticipation....and the transcendence of everyday ordinary bleak British winter blues.



The kids have just come in and I 've asked them what they love about Christmas...

Shauna...Exciting time to share with family.

Kayleigh... Ohh, I was going to say that Shauna...the special food and...MAGIC!...and the feeling when you can't sleep because father Christmas is coming...and leaving him a mince pie


Emmie.. Family, going to Nanny's house.



I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

Thursday, 29 November 2007

A Letter

From:

Mr. A. Graduate

Thatcher Cottage

Blair Way

Dumbingdown Road

Everytown

Less-than-Great Britain

Dear Mr Knowbetter,

In my defense can I first say that I haven’t received proper stationary yet ordered from eBay and I am fed up of waiting for it to arrive.

Im sorry this is late but on route I was held up in my journey to deliver this and had to wait for an accident to be moved to the side. It was a near-miss. Someone had been shopping and must have brought a lot of thing’s because they were all over the road.

I am writing to convince you to except my principal license application to practice as a color therapist. I could of wrote more on complimentary therapy’s like, as I practice and look at these treatments from a personnel prospective. They are very unique. I always try and insure my patience are well cared for and looking after there happyness is my principal roll.

Less people are using conventional treatment’s as their bored of it and fed up of the side affect’s. People who visit me at the center harbor serious affect’s.

I have read loads on it as I have a m8 who’s got loads of book’s on the subject, I havent got none myself and I cant let you lend them as you might loose them, but if your desparate tell me and I will ask. Their certainly fully comprehensive and convinced me to be a therapist.

I could of mentioned a lot more but I will sign of now and wait for your advise.

Yours

A. Graduate

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Warmth and Returnings

Dear Diary,





“Let me light my lamp,”
Says the star,
“And never debate
If it will help to remove the darkness.”

Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet.

I dedicate this entry today to J who was very ill and has now moved on from this world. She was a regular borrower at the library, a member of our book group and a dear and supportive friend. She was one of those special people who was perhaps too gentle, too good for this world.

May God rest her soul.

*

Back home again.

We drove home from Surrey sunshine yesterday and when we reached Wales we encountered the White Stuff: fields, hills and cars covered in real snow! The air turned very damp and chilly and we were reminded that it was indeed late November. We had been warned of course because my daughter had kindly phoned to forewarn us in case there were problems on the journey. The famous reversal of roles kicks in when you reach a certain age and your kids start to worry about your safety in the same way that you (always) worry about theirs.

It was M’s birthday so, when we were not too far from home, we treated ourselves to a pub lunch near Hay-on-Wye. The Hollybush Inn, we hadn’t been in it since 1988 would you believe, when we were house hunting in the area and planning our escape from the other world. The present owners have been there for three years and I can really recommend the food, there is a wonderful menu, a simple and tasteful interior (Country Living would approve) and they have varied live music evenings too. M let slip it was his birthday and a diner played Happy Birthday on the piano as the staff sang along. It was a very pleasant stop on our journey.

But it’s always good to be back home. I am such a home bird, I am like a fellow blogger friend who says she gets homesick walking to the post box. I have two more days off work as I am having to take all my leave that is owing to me. I shall also be taking some time off in December so I can finish my main and long-outstanding writing project.

*

The stone walls of the cottage quickly lose their heat and take even longer to warm up again. A joy in the hot summers, the cottage is pleasantly cool, but not so pleasant to return to in these dark Winter days and I secretly vow to not go away in the winter again.


Come Home to a Real Fire, Buy A Cottage In Wales.

A few daft sayings enter my head. Do you remember years ago that was an in-saying, when there was really bad feeling in some parts of Wales towards the English incomers. Never ’twas round here, I hasten to add.



But joy of joys! Our dear neighbours have lit both our fires, the ancient Rayburn in the little snug and also the woodburner in the parlour. They are so kind, they’ve also cared for the two dogs and Molly the cat. The dogs have spent the days in their house, probably being spoilt and lying in front of their fire. It has been known for Finn, our lurcher, to sleep on J’s bed!






Wet leaves are knee-high in the yard outside the back door and are a bit of a death-trap so I don warm clothes, gather up the broom and barrow, sweep them up into a huge pile and then put them to rest and decompose on the compost. I like a mixture of materials on there. I always find leaves less of a hassle to clear if they are wet as they merge together in a soggy mass and can be pushed easily to where I want them to go. The light is fading but I just have time to go over the road to the old forge and fill the wheelbarrow with logs, some are freshly delivered by E our local wood angel. I have blogged about him in the past. He has left us offcuts from fencing posts and now we have a real mix of woods. Silver birch, ash, pine and oak which is the best of course as it is slow burning. There is also some applewood from a tree our neighbours took down; that smells divine when it burns. We are lucky to have such a selection of wood for the fires as we also get some delivered by a local person .

When I take the logs back to their little winter space in the open front porch, I notice that M has also been there before me so we have a huge pile ready to burn. M says that’s OK as they all burn too quickly!








I haven’t posted any Blessings for ages so I think there had better be some today.

Home. Hiraeth, as the Welsh say, though I am told that there is no real English translation for that word as it is more a feeling in one’s soul, much like the love I hold in my heart for Ireland.

Our neighbours and their kindness.

I missed my computer too, how sad is that? Or rather I missed my purple coo friends and look forward to catching up on their news and their blogs.

My own bed, there is nothing like it is there, however comfy anyone else’s is. That leads me to my last blessing which is my new acquisition.

My new patchwork quilt. I will plug a local firm here, Pretty Practicals and try
and do a link, I’ve never done one before so please let it work.



I notice the owner of this company also has a blog that would be quite at home with purple coo, I will maybe send her a link. I am ashamed to say I ordered the quilt over the Internet and asked for it to be delivered through the post when I could quite easily have driven to pick it up as their unit is in a local market town, not that many miles from me. But I was very busy at the time and what with the ever-rising cost of petrol I decided it wasn’t too much of an extravagance really. But I see that they are opening a shop very soon and feel sure that V and I will be wending our way to Rhayader to have a look.



I’d best not forget the joys of our weekend away, it’s not all about the coming home. It is good to be with my brother and sister-in-law. We were both adopted and had little to do with each other when we were growing up, there was a big age difference, but we have become close since we have been adults. We share the same strange childhood with its terrible memories and when we get together we always end up talking about it. We laugh as well and that is the best therapy! We also enjoy good food and wine and much time was spent talking, either reminiscing or putting the world and especially the UK to rights. Isn’t that what most of our generation (and those younger!) seem to do all the time? I also met my nephew and his wife and their two young and beautiful children.

Life goes on and too quickly passes. Makes me feel old. Stop me now as I am sounding like a real wrinkly.

Before I go, here is something topical but please don’t think I am a supporter of royalty. I do steadfastly refuse to be anyone’s ‘subject’. I don’t even accept the sentiment in the poem. I just like the wording.

Diamond Wedding


Love found a voice and spoke two names aloud -
two private names, though breezed through public air -
and joined them in a life where duty spoke
in languages their tenderness could share,
A life remote from ours because it asked
each day, each action to be kept in view,
and yet familiar in the trust it placed
in human hearts, in hearts remaining true.
The years stacked up and as their weight increased
they pressed the stone of time to diamond,
immortal-mortal in its brilliant strength,
a jewel of earth where lightnings correspond.
Now every facet holds a picture-glimpse;
In some, the family faces and the chance for ordinary talk and what-comes-next;
in others, shows of pomp and circumstance.
And here, today, the diamond proves itself
as something of our own yet not our
own -
a blaze of trust, the oneness made of two;
the ornament and lodestar of the crown.


Andrew Motion


Enough of paradox, I shall sign off now. An unexciting blog, I admit and I do apologise that mine are always a tad too philosophical with not enough ‘content’. But personally I don’t want an exciting life but rather a quiet and peaceful one.

Peace and blessings to you,
Go mbeannai Dia duit
Caitx

Monday, 12 November 2007

Lyrics to Polly Come Home

If the wild bird could speak
He'd tell the places you have been
He's been in my dreams
And he knows all the ways of the winds

Polly, come home again
Spread your wings to the wind
I felt much of the pain
As it begins

Dreams cover much time
Still they leave blind the will to begin
I searched for you there
And now look for you from within

Polly, come home again
Spread your wings to the wind
I felt much of the pain
As it begins

Polly, come home again
Spread your wings to the wind
I felt much of the pain
As it begins

Polly Come Home



Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance








Dear Diary



My thought for the Day
11th November 2007

Racism is a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Faithless lyrics




Here are some Poems about War and Peace written by poets from all over the world.




Juan Lopez and John Ward


It was their luck to be born into a strange time.
The planet had been parceled out among various countries, each

one provided with loyalties, cherished memories, with a past
undoubtedly heroic, with rights, with wrongs, with a particular
mythology, with bronze forefathers, with anniversaries, with
demagogues and symbols.

This arbitrary division was favorable for wars.

Lopez was born in the city beside the tawny river; Ward, on the

outskirts of the city where Father Brown walked. He had
studied Spanish in order to read Quijote.

The other one professed a love for Conrad, who had been revealed

to him in a classroom on Viamonte Street.

They might have been friends, but they saw each other face to

face only once, on some overly famous islands, and each one of

them was Cain, and each was Abel.

They were buried together. Snow and corruption know them.
The incident I mention occurred in a time that we cannot understand.

by Jorge Luis Borges
Argentina (1899-1986)





General, your tank is a powerful vehicle.
It smashes down forests and crushes men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver
.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm

and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

by Bertolt Brecht

German









Harry Wilmans

I was just turned twenty-one,
And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent,
Made a speech in Bindle's Opera House.
"The honor of the flag must by upheld," he said,
"Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs
Or the greatest power in Europe."
And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved
As he spoke.
And I went to the war in spite of my father,
And followed the flag till I saw it raised
By our camp in a rice field near Manila,
And all of us cheered and cheered it.
But there were flies and poisonous things;
And there was deadly water,
And the cruel heat,
And the sickening, putrid food;
And the smell of the trench just back of the tents
Where the soldiers went to empty themselves;
And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis;
And beastly acts between ourselves or alone,
With bullying, hatred, degredation among us,
And days of loathing and nights of fear
To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp,
Following the flag,
Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts.
Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River!
A flag! A flag!

by Edgar Lee Masters
USA (1868-1950)


Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

by Wilfred Owen
Britain (1893-1918)





Misnomer
They speak of the art of war,
but the arts
draw their light from the soul’s well,
and warfare
dries up the soul and draws its power
from a dark and burning wasteland.
When Leonardo
set his genius to devising
machines of destruction he was not
acting in the service of art,
he was suspending
the life of art
over an abyss,
as if one were to hold
a living child out of an airplane window
at thirty thousand feet.
by Denise Leverton
USA



Speaking: The Hero
I did not want to go.
They inducted me.
I did not want to die.
They called me yellow.
I tried to run away.
They courtmartialed me.
I did not shoot.
They said I had no guts.
I cried in pain.
They carried me to safety.
In safety I died.
They blew taps over me.
They crossed out my name
And buried me under a cross.
They made a speech in my home town.
I was unable to call them liars.
They said I gave my life.
I had struggled to keep it.
They said I set an example
I had tried to run.
They said they were proud of me.
I had been ashamed of them.
They said my mother should be proud.
My mother cried.
I wanted to live.
They called me a coward.
I died a coward.
They called me a hero.
by Felix Pollak


This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hollowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.
by William Stafford
USA (1914-1993)



Give Back Peace
Give back father, give back mother,
Give back grandpa, give back grandma,
Give back boys, give back girls.
Give me back myself, give me back men
Linked to me.
As long as men live as men,
Give back peace,
Peace that never crumbles.
by Sankichi Toge
Japan (1917-1953)

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa-springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it's not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Again we'll need bridges
and new railway stations.

Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone listens
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.

From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
rust-eaten arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass which has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out,
blade of grass in his mouth,
gazing at the clouds.

Wizlowa Mborska

A Polish poet

She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. She died in 2002, at the age of 101.



War



War is our hardened hearts,
war is our sickened stomachs
war is the Devil’s laughing eyes.
For so often are we near the edge
that when Evil may betray us
into Satan’s den we stray.
So easily unresisting and sheep-like.
Taking the easy way,
the path of least resistance,
crossing the thin line that we humans oftimes tread,
into all manner of cruelty and sinfulness.

Cait O'Connor
Irish

Bye for now,

Go mbeannai Dia duit

God Bless,

Caitx

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Halloween

Dear Diary,



To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal ... a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance ... a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to lose and a time to seek; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


It is official, it is the end of Summer, and we have reached Halloween or Samhain, as this time of year is known in the Celtic calendar.

M and others have always called me a witch and I always tell (some) people that I am one, strictly tongue-in-cheek you understand.

M used to make me silver witch jewellery, many moons ago and he paints witchy pictures too.

With me it’s more of a state of mind that I have had since childhood, some people might call me a hedge witch.


That reminds me of the good book that is Hedgewitch by Beth Rae. I was led to it again last week when I was browsing in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye; a day or so after I had been thinking about the actual book, funnily enough, (or not).

What is a witch anyway? This label started way back in the pre-Christian era before most people could read and write. I hate the word witch; it’s one of those labels I detest so much. Usually out of utter ignorance, society likes to lump people, along with their belief systems, into boxes and stick a label on them. But ignorance always mutates into fear and then from fear into hatred.


I’ve recently read a good book called ‘White Magic’ by Lucy Cavendish. It’s an excellent read if you want to understand the history of the so-called witches who were really the healers, midwives, herbalists, the country women who were in tune with Nature, the wise women (and a few wise men!) of the area. They knew and worked with the cycles of the Moon and the Sun, were attuned to the seasons, the wind and the rain and learned to plant seeds, tend plants and harvest them along with these rhythms. They made remedies (soon to be re-named ‘potions’) and were the nearest thing to a doctor in those days in their power to heal. These potions came to be called ‘spells’ when these ‘witches’ were seen as too powerful. But that’s what the power of a spell is really; it’s part belief, part imagination (I-magic), what we call creative visualisation nowadays, or positive thinking. In the olden days, well not that long ago actually, in order for authorities to have religious dominance over the people, these ‘secrets’ were suppressed.

The wise ones believed in the magic of Spirit, the joy of the Earth and they had an awareness of energies. Many people still do. And where sex is concerned the females of our species have always had the power to enchant, in order to attract a male. It is in our nature to be alluring, to bewitch, to cast our spell!

If you are interested in this subject two more books I would recommend are The Elememts of Natural Magic or A Witch Alone, both written by Marian Green.




I was asked for my three favourite words yesterday and one of mine is alchemy. True magic. From its simplest form, making a cake for example, or baking bread, they can both be construed as magical, do you not agree? Feng shui is another type of alchemy. Try de-cluttering, clearing out, and you will notice how it will lighten your load and make you feel so much better.

My other favourite words are love and peace, not original choices perhaps but they are the only two things that matter in the world, that much I have learned.

There is a Dark Side to all these energies of course; there is a Shadow for everything if harnessed in a Negative way, that way Black Magic and all things Evil lie.


*

People have been baptised in the river that runs through our garden as it lies close to a well-known old Welsh chapel. It might account for the special feeling of peace in this valley, who knows?

It got me thinking about witch-hunting and the millions of European witches who were drowned in rivers, hung and/or burned to death. The song Burning Times says it all
I have it on a CD with the same name and beautifully performed by Christy Moore but it was written by Charlie Murphy.

Here are his lyrics.

The Burning Times

In the cool of the evening, they used to gather
'Neath the stars in the meadow circling an old oak tree
At the times appointed by the seasons
Of the earth and the phases of the moon


In the centre, stood a woman
Equal with the others and respected for her worth
One of the many we call the witches
The healers and the teachers of the wisdom of the earth

And the people grew through the knowledge she gave them
Herbs to heal their bodies, spells to make their spirits whole
Can't you hear them chanting healing incantations
Calling forth the wise ones, celebrating in dance and song?

{Refrain}
Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innana (3x)


There were those who came to power, through domination
And they were bonded in their worship of a dead man on a cross
They sought control of the common people
By demanding allegiance to the Church of Rome

And the Pope declared an inquisition
It was a war against the women, whose power they feared
In the holocaust against the nature people
Nine million European women died

And the tale is told of those, who by the hundreds
Holding together chose their death in the sea
While chanting the praises of the Mother Goddess
A refusal of betrayal, women were dying to be free

{Refrain}

Now the Earth is a witch, and the men still burn her
Stripping her down with mining, and the poisons of their wars
Still to us the Earth is a healer, a teacher, a mother
The weaver of a web of life that keeps us all alive

She gives us the vision to see through the chaos
She gives us the courage; it is our will to survive

Charlie Murphy



Something to think about especially today, this Halloween, 31st October 2007, when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest and the gates are open back on the Past and forward into the Future.

The light may be fading but the Earth’s energies are rising, the trees are scattering their leaves and the frosts are stirring. A time to prepare for Winter, a time for New Ideas.

For my part, I will also be rediscovering the delights of Early Nights, Good Books and cocoa or rather organic hot chocolate. I’ve treated myself to a new goose down duvet (because I’m worth it!) and soon I hope to spoil myself further with a new patchwork quilt. (My original one has been ‘borrowed’, don’t ask…..).

Enjoy the day,

Bye for now
Go mbeannaí Dia duit
Many Blessings,
Caitx

Friday, 26 October 2007

Early Morning Rambles





Dear Diary,

The video is one by Christy Moore, one of my favourite Irish musicians. If you play it, do Pause the other music player on this page or you will get a cacophany.

Today's blog is very late in the posting and it's a bit of a ramble. But hey ho it's Friday.......


I would love to live Like a river flows Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding

John O’Donohue


I wake two minutes before I hear the Radio 4 Today programme which is my usual wake-up call at 7 am. But it’s still dark! As I make my way to the bathroom it still feels like the middle of the night. I am soon back in bed and M brings me the reviving cup that cheers, laced with honey and I sip it while listening to the news or rather the Bad News which is what our news bulletins should be called, don’t you think? The sweetness in the honey seems to go straight to my bloodstream, I slowly feel its effects and start to feel better. I have always been allergic to mornings, the reward or rather the punishment for being something of a night owl. The day also slowly lightens and by 8 am all is clear, but it’s a grey and cloudy vista, there are to be no magical mists today.

Last night the Moon was Full. I had real trouble getting off to sleep, so did M. And my dreams this past week have all been troubled and disturbing ones. Sometimes these are bad dreams that feature other people in my circle and I wake feeling concerned about them and hope that all will be well. From time to time in my life I have kept a Dream Diary and know too well that dreams can be very revealing, such is the power of their symbolism.

Today is my long day at work so after just a little bit of a read I get up and then it’s my shower, yoga, porridge routine. I am accompanied from now on by music, which helps to lift my spirits.

Yesterday was another glorious Autumn day, cold but a sunshiny blue sky day that made me feel glad to be alive. I spent time in the garden, sweeping, tidying, getting it ready for bed. I just do an hour at a time now and potter to my heart’s content. Ah pottering; now that should be added to my blog profile really as it’s one of my favourite pastimes and ranks up there along with Cloudwatching, Sleeping and Taking Naps.

I’ve planted some bulbs, miniature narcissi, crocus, and alliums so far, but will buy a few more this weekend. I also planted up some troughs with winter heathers, those lovely dusky pink ones. I’ve replaced my hanging pots of fuchsias with winter violas, purple ones of course. They hang outside the back door because folk hereabouts all use the back door as their ‘main’ entrance.

The breadmaker is producing heavenly tasting loaves, probably the best I’ve ever tasted, apart from Irish soda bread of course, now I wonder if it will produce that for me?

M made bread pudding for me yesterday with some leftover ‘ends’ of the loaves and it too was delicious. I worked with a woman once, a fellow Londoner, who called bread pudding Irish Wedding Cake. I wasn’t offended, especially as I much prefer it to fruit cake anyway and I dislike wedding or Christmas cake, especially their marzipan and the oft too-sweet icing.

A has put sheep in our field again so I am now taking the dogs beyond the ‘estate’ for walks so as not to disturb the flock. I also want to lose weight so some more long and brisk walking is called for. I am taking medication (aromatase inhibitors) whose side effects are weight gain round the middle and also a slight loss of appetite. So I still put on weight but without the corresponding sinfulness of eating too much tasty food. Cruel eh?

Ah, but we must accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…..

Blessings Today?

I shall soon have a little time off work, a week or so to play catch-up: get on with writing, some for my course and also other stuff. Time to walk, to read, to garden, do a spot of painting in the cottage and to work on the family tree. We are having a few days away seeing family as well, as M and my brother have birthdays near each other.

The aforementioned Bread Pudding. Delia Smith style.
Here is the recipe. I grew up with the stuff but M who is not a Londoner first tasted it on Petticoat Lane one cold winter’s morning and fell in love with it.

Old fashioned bread pudding a la Delia Smith,
or St Delia as I call her.

8oz bread any type, can cut crusts off but I don’t worry.
Half pint milk
2 oz butter
3 oz sugar any type, we use brown/molasses
2 level tsps mixed spice
6 ozs mixed fruit
Grated rind of half an orange (M used lemon and it was nice)
Freshly grated nutmeg

My tip, a secret ingredient:
Don’t forget also the sprinkle of LOVE, I take it you all have a jar in your kitchen?


Break bread up and soak in milk for 30 minutes. Stir it all up first. Add melted butter, sugar, spice, beat with a fork till not lumpy, add fruit and rind. Spread in buttered baking dish and sprinkle with nutmeg and LOVE. Bake in pre-heated oven (Gas 5 ish) about an hour and a quarter/till done. For a touch of white wickedness sprinkle a wee bit of (white) sugar over when it comes out of the oven.

Nice hot with custard and some love it cold as well (I do!).


A new Diana Cooper book. This one is called Angel Answers and is proving very interesting. I’ll do a proper review another day.



My computer is still working OK so far (Touch Wood!).


Finally,

Purplecoo, I don’t think I’ve put the site down as a blessing before and I should have, it is a very Big Blessing.




Before I go here is a poem.

Extract from the Prophet
KahliI Gibran


And a woman spoke, saying, "Tell us of Pain."
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.


I must not forget that the clocks Fall Backwards tomorrow. Then it’s all change, the dark evenings set in and the mornings lighten. I don’t know which is worse!

Bye for now,
& God Bless,
Cait