Alexander Averin

Friday, 15 June 2007

Back Again

Dear Diary,

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness
Chinese Proverb

I wake slowly and it is hard to come back to the real world as I have been dreaming deeply and for a change I have had enough sleep. Too many late nights had caught up with me again and I fell into bed exhausted last night.

But it is a beautiful morning. Sun gleaming on the river, swathes of hardy geraniums in pink and purple adorn the garden, an impressionistic treat. And my new washing line! More on that later, I bet you can’t wait.

I am enjoying the juke box choices but isn’t it annoying when it stops when you go off to comment? But I am putting it on as background when I go to the Common Room or when I am surfing around, emailing or even doing my yoga. M seems to be enjoying it too. I think I need an Ipod. There are already a couple of tracks waiting on Jukebox 2 that someone asked for (sorry I forget who; too late for the first round.

My current favourite on there is Hallelujah by Allison Crow, I couldn’t find it by K D Laing, the version that someone (forgive me but I have forgotten who it was but she said it made her cry). She recommended hers to me but I only found this version by the Crow woman, new to me, but boy can she belt it out! She is Canadian so Pondside will surely know her. I have just found Crowe singing it on YouTube. Canada certainly has some wonderful writers and musicians. Sarah McLachlan is another singer I love. Below are some reviews of Tidings an Allison Crowe CD.

Tidings, Allison Crowe (Rubenesque)

This Canadian singer is more of a rock belter than her countrywoman Sarah McLachlan, and this 2005 album has more of a spontaneous feel to it, with only her piano, bass and percussion for backing. There are no originals, and indeed she even picks some non-holiday tunes for their complimentary tone, so we get things like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," the Stones' "Shine a Light," McLachlan's "Angel" and the Beatles' "Let it Be" and "In My Life." Regulars include Joni Mitchell's "River," "Silent Night," "In the Bleak Midwinter," "First Noel" and "O Holy Night." There's something to be said for this unadorned approach -- for example, you might just feel comfortable playing this all year round. Maple Music kindly threw in a DVD of her playing live, but you have to be in the fan club to get this.

Tidings: CD Review
Sophia Gurley, The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music (USA)
August 2006
Ecto priority:
Highly recommended
Allison Crowe's powerhouse vocals are front and centre in these holiday and cover songs, giving them a lot of life and presence. In addition to the songs on the ep version, this includes: an impressive cover of Joni Mitchell's "River", two Beatles covers, and three additional carols. Ectophiles will find this a strong addition to their collection of seasonal albums. The combination of traditional carols with carefully selected covers is especially enjoyable.

Allison Crowe: Tidings
Cover Corner by Tom Weel: Beatles Unlimited (Netherlands)
May/June 2005 (BU 181)
Allison Crowe’s name appeared on Art Monkey’s compilation “It Was 40 Years Ago Today” (BU177) and here we have her own seasonal album, with some obvious traditionals (Silent Night, The First Noel, a.o.) The other somewhat contrasting half consists of two Leonard Cohen songs (including the fantastic Hallelujah) and tracks written by Joni Mitchell, the Stones and Beatles: In My Life and Let It Be, which also appeared in a slightly different version on the above mentioned sampler. In an acoustic setting, where she gently accompanies herself on piano (on only three tracks she’s joined on bass and drums), her vocals are the most intriguing aspect on every track. She easily flows from dark, soulful and firm to an occasional high note (Mitchell’s River) or long vocal draws (as proven in the final album track, a startling version of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel). By giving Let It Be the gospel flavour it deserves and with an emotionally sung In My Life, the two Beatles songs fit very well in the album’s concept. This all leads to only one conclusion: don’t play this during Christmastime… play it the whole year through!

I just adore Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, well you can’t call them lyrics they are pure poetry.

I have missed and haven’t read a blog for what seems like ages, let alone written one. I have popped into the Common Room from time to time, I don’t want to miss anything, some things make me smile or laugh, some can bring a tear. All human life is there but what a great community we have. But Life gets in the way of writing sometimes doesn’t it? Family stuff, chores, reading and work mainly. All have conspired to keep me from blogging. Today is a day off and it is a free day so, as I savour my mug of tea that always brings me to my senses, I think about what I am going to write.

I am determined to get on with it today as I have to finish my assignment for my OCA course. I am writing my ‘life story’; it’s an adoption memoir really and a record of my search for family, for future generations to read. For my assignment I have to write about Moments of Consequence and their influence on my life; well there have been so many of those. I will have to try and be selective.

Our book group met this week and we discussed ‘Diary of an Ordinary Woman‘. As it is also our Purplecoo choice I will say nothing yet. Suffice it to say that an enjoyable, lively evening was had as usual. A few of us are going to an outside broadcast on Radio Wales next week on Jamie Owen’s programme (only Welsh readers will know who I am talking about). We are reviewing Mr Cassini and Growth Rings, two of the short listed titles for Welsh Book of the Year. One of us will speak about one of the books and then another will record an interview for the following week. I have been asked to speak but have suggested that two of our members do it, I would surely dry up on air! We have two lecturers and a barrister in our group so they should find it a doddle to do.

Growth Rings is a slim volume of poems, several of which I like very much. I will post one or two for you at a later date. I would have to be honest though and say that I wouldn’t rate it as the winner of the prize. Mr Cassini, the novel, however, is another matter; I love this book and can highly recommend it. Yes it is of Welsh interest so if you are Welsh or live in Wales it may resonate with you more but apart from that it would still get my vote for its originality and its intelligence. It is very cleverly written, a multi-layered modern fable, crammed with history, myth and magic. Having said that I do feel that it is a book that people might either love or hate. I have requested Lloyd Jones’ previous books through the library including his latest title Mr Pip and look forward to comparing them with Mr Cassini. Being in a book group or being ‘made’ to read a book that you wouldn’t normally pick up is a blessing sometimes as you discover gems that might otherwise have been uncovered.

Our writing group also met this week. The subject we’d had to write about for homework was ‘The River’. I cheated and took an earlier blog entry that I wrote about how I found my cottage-by-the river. (As I have said I have been busy lately). Our next theme is a lovely subject - ‘The Forest’ - chosen by H, our new fifteen year old member who is such a gifted poet. I think I will go down the woodland route. Why do I find forests a wee bit scary but love woods and feel they are peaceful and magical? Is it a size thing? Already I am thinking my contribution will be a poem; I am thinking fairies, magic and the like. I would like to be buried in a wood (when I am dead I hasten to add!), they are my favourite places along with seashores.

Talking of poetry, as I love to do, I have signed up to a (sacred)poetry site that sends you a sacred poem daily in your email. Poets from all over the world. One of my all-time favourite poems is on there. ‘On Angels’ by the late Czeslaw Milosz, which can be found on an earlier blog of mine.

For those of you who also love poetry and want to sign up this is the link. There are three of Milosz’s poems on this bit, including Angels.

Talking of which I have ordered some Angel Oracle Cards; I feel I’ve been led to try them. I will still use my Tarot cards, but though they are accurate they are so ancient and I feel I need to get some ’fresh’ untarnished cards, free of absorbed energies from my past. New ideas inspire me and dear Faith’s angel cards have proved to be very accurate. I think my granddaughters would like them too, they should be easier to ‘understand’ than the Tarot.

Has anything else exciting happened you may be wondering? Wait for it. I at last have a prop-er washing line, a prop-er line! I have taken down my rotary drier which was sitting in what I optimistically call my gravel garden. My new line is a wind-up one which stretches from a tree to a post near the river bank, much tidier, windier and the gravelled area will look much more attractive. I have a ‘thing’ about washing lines; they are getting a rare sight these days as so many people use tumble driers (I don’t own one, they are an unnecessary strain on energy resources). I love to see and smell washing blowing in the wind and I did start taking photos of them to make a sort of historical collection. However I was a little worried that people might think I was a little strange asking permission to take photos of their washing! I am on the lookout for photos and paintings of them so if any of you have any ideas please let me know. My daughter, who lives on a farm, has what I call my ‘favourite’ line which stretches across a woodland from tree to tree,

And so to Blessings.

It is said that if you appreciate what you love then what you need will come along effortlessly. Here's hoping then.

Let’s start with Beverages, hot and cold.

Tea, (Jacksons of Piccadilly green tea with lemon is my latest fave)

Clipper Fairtrade organic instant hot chocolate is another craze of mine.

So Good chocolate Soya milk.

Chocolate cream desserts from the supermarket (probably crammed with E numbers but I am addicted).

(Do you see a theme here?)

For a change let’s have a seasonal favourite.



lists - a blessing you ask? Only if you promise to put THREE things on your list every day for YOU to look forward to.

And last but definitely not least:


I’ll sign off now as I want to catch up on reading blogs. I especially look forward to reading everyone’s homework!

And then I will sit down to write……..

Before I go,

Instead of a poem here is a favourite quote by Marilyn Williams, often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela as he used it in a famous speech. I made the same mistake myself.

Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Now I must get this show on the road,

Bye for now,


Suffolkmum said...

What a great read,as ever. I LOVE your home! Your cottage reminds me of mine; sadly we don't have the land. I really enjoyed looking at it all. Yes on life getting in the way of writing, sometimes, I cherish the times I can write for myself or blog. I'll pick up on a couple of your recommended books. Love the quote, I thought it was Mandela too.

Suffolkmum said...

By the way, I forgot to say - I love forests - the word makes me think of enchanted palaces, sleeping beauty, lost worlds. There is a song by the Cure - A Forest - one of my all time favourites, very haunting.

Pondside said...

I live by the edge of the forest and walk in it most days, with my wee dog. Sometimes I feel full to overflowing with the pleasure of being in the moist green darkness. Sometimes I am afraid - of the cougar and of the spirits of the First Nations hunters for whom this area was a summer hunting ground. I don't think they're happy to know that their descendants no longer have the freedom to roam and hunt.
I really enjoyed your writing on Canadian musicians, all of whom are known to me. It was I who mentionned KD Lang and if I can find her version I will send it to you.

Faith said...

Thanks for putting my music choices on - although maybe others chose those too! your blog was lovely as always - in fact I think I will re-read, slowly.