Alexander Averin

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Books, books and more books.

Dear Diary,

This is Blog 101. I did not realise that the previous one was the century. I have been blogging now for six months, am still enjoying it and hope there will be many more to come.

I'll start with Blessings today.

Sunday Mornings.

We have had sunny but chilly mornings and even colder nights recently but the mists have hung in the valleys, they are the oceans of magic that we look forward to each year. I shall never forget when I was first an incomer to this fine country and I encountered this phenomenon from my smallholding, on my own high vantage point. Visitors to Wales revel in the sight, it hits them deep inside as well, such is its beauty.

The repair of my computer and the removal of all its nasties (fingers crossed they don‘t come back).

A good novel. I have just enjoyed Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris.

Our new bread maker which has just produced its first delicious loaf. And thanks to all those people who recommended a Panasonic.

And finally I don’t often stick a poem in as a blessing in itself, but this one is by Seamus Heaney, my daughter sent it to me recently and it’s one I hadn’t come across before.

I think it ‘so deep and so full’ as all good poetry should be.


My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horses strained at his clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck

Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

Seamus Heaney

I started off intending to write about sounds, my most-loved, memory-inducing, that sort of thing. It’s a piece of homework that I should have done ages ago for a fellow blogger. As I said, I’ve just finished Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris and was browsing my (home) bookshelves for something to read, as, quite unlike me, I have neglected to bring anything back from the library. I came upon on a book, then another and ended up bringing a wee pile back to bed, (Sunday mornings what a treat they are).

As I lay in bed, through the window I can see frost, but rays of sunlight are peeping through the mist on the field. It’s going to be another perfect autumn day so I decide not to waste too much of it with my head in a book.

I start thinking of Books I Have Loved and remember that is another piece of ’homework’ that I am meant to have done so I set to and make a list.

Here it is:

The first book I just want to mention is one called The House on Beartown Road, by Elizabeth Cohen. It's a memoir written by an American woman who is caring for her father, who has Alzheimer’s, at the same time as she is bringing up her young child. It sounds like a depressing book but it is a real gem and a positive one that will stay in your memory long after you have read it. Especially if you have a member of your family with this disease, but even if you don’t I would recommend it.

I know a few ‘carers’ sometimes read this blog and I have just heard a wonderful book on the radio, Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn. It is a Welsh publication and is set in Cardiff; it was Radio 4’s Book of The Week last week and was written by a woman caring for her son who has cerebral palsy. The writing is poetic and I recommend it highly. Siriol Jenkins narrated it on the radio and she did it so beautifully.

Back to the list:
(Books I Have Loved)

Little Women by Louisa M Alcott. As a child I enjoyed this one, it brought a family to me and sisters that I would have loved to have had.

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I always loved animal stories. I still re-read this sometimes, it’s more than just a tale about animals of course.

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. This book alone would have converted me to feminism when I was growing up.

The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. For me this book was better than any therapy could have been. It is written for adoptive parents and for those adopted ‘children’ so it will help them understand why they feel as they do, being all about bonding, scarring and loss.

Twenty Years A Growing by Maurice O’Sullivan. An Irish classic. One of many.

Talking of Irish writers:

Anything by Edna O’Brien. She writes so lyrically. I started many years ago with her Country Girls Trilogy.

And now a Canadian writer.
Unless by the late Carol Shields. When she died a few years ago it was a very sad loss to the literary world. She was one of my favourite authors.

or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau. An American classic, one of my all time favourites.

Read, dream, savour.

I’ll finish with a couple of New Age type books, first an American-Irish writer, Sarah Ban Breathnach. Anything by her is a joy to read. Start with Simple Abundance, a Daybook of Comfort and Joy. If it is positivity you are looking for, she is your woman.

Another writer I would recommend is Gill Edwards. Try her Living Magically, all about creative visualisation and positivity. I lent this book to a friend once and she said it changed her life.

Obviously there are loads of titles that haven’t sprung to mind, books that might mean more to me and that I would loved to have made mention of. There will be other blogs, I can add one or two at a later date. I might, in true librarian mode, start recommending books more often. One of the (many) joys of my job are the borrowers who tell me about books they have read, or ones they have heard about and are wanting to order. This way gems are uncovered and shared.

The sun is getting stronger now and it’s now shining on me, full on, almost nagging me with its insistence to come out from under the covers and to get up and get moving and to stop dreaming about books,

But before I go I feel another quick poem coming on, an old one of my own this time.

Because looking out of the study window I see two of these.

October Rose.

Will she hang on to Christmas
or is her blooming over?
Once young and dewy,
frail and fragile.
Then, maturing, she was lush and luxuriant,
prized and proud.

Fading now, a late October Rose is rare,
so all the more special
in the newly-misted garden.

Not red, nor blowsy,
too old for blushing, yet still young enough to pick.
Still beauteous of colour, still romantic.
With scent enough to sate the senses

Still inspiring a crush, or rush of love,
thus charming all who seek her out,
be they very young, or be they like the rose
who’s nearly past her prime.

Cherish her, for she is still in bloom,
clinging on to youth and beauty,

though her petals fall so quickly now.

Soon she’ll be a sucker gone to seed.

Soon banished,

quickly dried,

or cast away.

Cait O’Connor

Bye for now,


Kaycie said...

Lovely as always, Cait.

"Little Women" is one of my favorites. I wanted to BE Jo. I passed my copy on to my daughter when she was young and she loved it as well.

Elizabethd said...

Cait, I so enjoyed reading this. No pertinent comments....just an overall pleasure.

laurie said...

wow. i'm with you on a lot of those books--edna o'brien, the wind in the willows, little women, carol shields...

so i'm going to trust you on some of those others and get 'em. i have a $25 gift card to and it's burning a hole in my pocket.

you asked (on my blog) about fun monday: it's just a group blog thing, where one blogger picks a topic and everyone who wants to write on the same topic signs up.

this was my first time trying it and it was kind of fun. if another topic appeals to me, i'll do it again.

bodran... said...

The lovely welsh mists a true autumn gift xx

Anonymous said...

Beautiful farming poem, Cait, thank you for sharing that. Lovely informative blog as always.

Crystal xx

bradan said...

I love lots of these too, Cait. Twenty Years a Growing is a grand story. Have you read "The Islandman" - Tomas O'Crohan?
Little Women and The Wind in the Willows are also my faves, plus Edna O'Brien. Great to be able to read your blogs again. xx

Frances said...

Hello Cait,

This blog was another gem. Full of unpredictible bits. The poetry was lovely. Provacative.

The book selection ... well, I have read some of them, would want to read some others, and some of them, maybe not. Is this not the beauty of a library? Such a feast from which to choose.

When I read a book that I truly think exceptional, I am wary of recommending it to certain friends, just instictively feeling that they might not be as enraptured as I was. But sometimes I do take that chance, and am so glad when it turns out to have been a good instinct!

I am now on day three of my little vacation here in New York. Some of it will be spent here in my apartment trying to do some painting, but some of it will be enjoying my home town as a tourist during our glorious autumn culture fest.

I wish that I could see the mists in Wales that you see. I will instead enjoy urban delights.

Again, thank you for the Instant Karma!


Suffolkmum said...

I agree with Elizabethd. So much pleasure from reading this - and so many times I was shrieking (in my mind!) me too! I adore that Heaney poem, one of my favourites, it's also very special for R as it reminds him of his Father who died when he was small - he always used to say that R was alwyas 'in his pocket'. You also had many of my favourites in your book list - although I don't know a few, and will investigate.

Suffolkmum said...

PS forgot to say I really enjoyed your poem too - loved the idea of the late rose being too old for blushing. Very poignant.

Casdok said...

Lovely, i enjoyed that, thank you.

KittyB said...

Interesting book list, and so many I've not heard of, I'll have to look them up. I'm reading the Lollipop shoes for our book group, but it hasn't gripped me... yet.

Exmoorjane said...

Some old favourites here and new ideas too....I shall hunt them out.. I too love the low slung mist...we have it here on Exmoor too and also it hangs low in the valleys of South-West France... a true joy.
I share your love of Sarah BB - but had quite forgotten Gill Edwards and shall dig out her books and re-read.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I've just had a wonderful luxurious catch up on all your blogs ...its been lovely...just sitting here reading, listening to the music. Edna O'brien...i'd forgotten how much I loved her books. The Heart of Wales dad was conducter guard on that for many years and loved to tell us tales of the people he met in a day and the scenery. Thank you Cait that was lovely

Pondside said...

Hi Cait I've just caught up on these last two blogs. I'm just now reading Lollipop Shoes and quite enjoying it. I'm with you on many of your childhood books and on Carol Shields, who at the end of her life lived here. I enjoyed your MEME!

CAMILLA said...

A truly wonderful Blog Cait, and thank you for the list of Books, of which I have made a note of. Have ordered Lollipop Shoes from the local Library, and am eager to read it. Oh adore Kenneth Graham, Wind in the Willows, have the book and the Video, and never tire of it. Adored Little Women too, remember reading that many years ago, and have kept it for my Granddaughter to read,

Agree about Germaine Greer, I have that book so too her book entitled The Obstacle Race, the book focusing on the world of women painters to show how the imposition of traditional social constraints has robbed women in particular, and the world at large. Beautifully illustrated paintings within the book also.

I adore that Poem Cait, about the Rose.