Artist

Alexander Averin

Friday, 18 July 2008

Full Moons, Images and Words

Dear Diary,


An Irish Blessing for you:


May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.”




It's a Full Moon tonight





And now for the images:


The stairs in my wee cottage






The view from my kitchen window







Some lavender in my garden




Remember my mystery plant?


Verbascum




It grew





And the borage seeds grew too





The bench who lives by the river


The front garden and the river bridge




The dear old bike who lives by the old woodshed



The new willow arch on the river bridge




The sheep, they have gone now but here is a memory




Before I go I will leave you with a poem.

I told you I was reading Dannie Abse's book The Presence.

This is one of his poems. If one can be in love with a poem, I am in love with this one. I am ashamed to say I have only just discovered this man's writings and his use of language is an inspiration


Not Adlestrop


Not Adlestrop, no - besides the name
hardly matters. Nor did I languish in June heat.
Simply, I stood, too early, on the empty platform,
and the wrong train came in slowly, surprised, stopped.
Directly facing me, from a window,
a very, very pretty girl leaned out.

When I, all instinct,
stared at her, she, all instinct, inclined her head away
as if she'd divined the much married life in me,
or as if she might spot, up platform,
some unlikely familiar.

For my part, under the clock, I continued
my scrutiny with unmitigated pleasure.
And she knew it, she certainly knew it, and would
not glance at me in the silence of not Adlestrop.

Only when the train heaved noisily, only
when it jolted, when it slid away, only then,
daring and secure, she smiled back at my smile,
and I, daring and secure, waved back at her waving.
And so it was, all the way down the hurrying platform
as the train gathered atrocious speed
towards Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire.

Dannie Abse


I'm sure we've all been there haven't we?



And remember this quotation, as I am in photo-mode tonight:


Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~Usman B. Asif

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait
test

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Welsh Book of The Year 2008

Dear Diary,

Just a little literary news today and on the musical front I have posted a video of a very moving song my daughter sent me this morning. It can be found below this post. She knows I am a lifelong Clapton fan and I’m pleased to say that both my children appreciate his genius as well. And my son shares his passion for playing the guitar.

But on the subject of books which is probably my number one passion (though music runs very close I have to say…).

The Wales Book of the Year is an annual literary award given to the best book written in English and the best book in Welsh in the fields of creative writing and literary criticism.

I am so pleased to report that the book I am currently reading and so enjoying - The Presence by Dannie Abse, written to help him overcome his grief after his wife died in a a car crash, has won the 2008 Wales Book of the Year. It is a fabulous book, by a great writer and poet and I heartily recommend it. When I find a good book I don’t want it to end and I am tempted to read it in small ‘doses’, this is one such book that I will no doubt read again.

Abse wrote The Presence in the aftermath of his wife Joan's death in June 2005. The Cardiff-born author, who lives in London, was also awarded a £10,000 prize. The results were announced in a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff on 1 July 2008.

The three final short listed books were:

Dannie Abse: The Presence (Hutchinson.

Tom Bullough: The Claude Glass (Sort Of Books).

Nia Wyn: Blue Sky July (Seren).

If you have read my blog you will know that I have been raving about Nia Wyn’s book Blue Sky July for a long time and have been forcing it on all and sundry, whether they think they fancy it or not. So I was really pleased when it was short listed for this award.

I am still waiting to read Tom Bullough’s book The Claude Glass as I have requested it through the library, there must be a waiting list so I can’t yet comment on that one. It sounds like a very well written novel of personal and 'local' interest, so is Something to Look Forward To, I'm sure. I will blog about it asap.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Eric Clapton and John Mayer

Friday, 11 July 2008

Blessings, a Poem, some Pictures, and (below) a Song.






Dear Diary,

The pictures above are by the artist Liz Ryan.

It's high time I posted some Blessings as I have been a tad neglectful lately; there seems to have been a lot of bad news around and as for the weather, I will say no more.


(Where is summer hiding?).


Here goes then. I will do my best.


I'll start with poetry, It's always there to seek out, read or to have a go at writing myself. Lines are always going round in my head (don't you just love words?).


Below is one poem that cheered me recently, it was 'homework' submitted by L, one of our writing group members.



Lauri & the Monster



I was sat telling Lauri

a bed-time story:

It was like Jackanory

but just her and me

when a big blinking monster

fell out of the wardrobe;

before he could strike

I said, "You leave her be !".


We don't want your kind

around here causing trouble.

We've heard all about you ...

you're very naughty.

We will not put up with you

eating our children.

Be off Mr. Monster ...

Be gone instantly !


The monster looked sheepish

and cast his eyes downward

I noticed a tear

then another, then three

and I said Mr. Monster

Oh why are you crying ?

He sat on the floor

and explained it to me.


He said, “I'm the monster

that lives in the bedroom

of every small child

in every country

and nobody loves me

because I'm so scarey

but scarey is not

what I wanted to be.


My fate it was cast

by the toss of a coin

I could have been charming

a Prince don't you see

but I met the wrong side

of a Witch in Llangammarch

and this is the spell

that she cast upon me.


But you, you can save me !

Sweet little Lauri.

You are the secret.

You hold the key.

You can cancel the spell

that the Wicked Witch made

and I'll make you a princess

if you set me free”.


We looked at each other

Lauri and I

not sure what to make

of the monster's story

and as quick as a flash

while our guard it was down

he jumped to his feet

quite gymnasti-cally


Then showed us his teeth

and a bottle of sauce

that he kept in his pocket

specfi-cally.


Strangely enough

we’d assumed this might happen ...

We're not very gullible

Lauri and me.


I snatched up the bottle

of sauce from his pocket

and opened the window

as wide as could be,

then threw it as far

as my muscles could manage.

It landed next door ...

in a nest,

... up a tree.


The monster was foiled

and he starved quite to death.

Kids without sauce

taste disgusting you see.


So the moral herein is:

Keep wardrobe doors closed

And be wary of ketchup

- and tales of “poor me”.



©Ven.June2008





Our writing group is another blessing. Like minded souls getting together for chat and a drink afterwards, sharing our work and our love of the written word. We have a new member who writes songs and he performed his homework for us last night accompanied by his guitar - very original and enjoyable.


Music goes hand in hand with poetry, what are songs sometimes, but poetry set to music anyway? I have posted my Record of the Week below too, it's called No Air and it's one of those tunes that sticks in the mind, always a sign of a hit I think. Apparently the singers were on American Idol, not that I have ever watched it, I just caught the song on the radio in the car yesterday and loved it.


Our writing homework last month was on the subject 'Toss a coin'. My litle prose poem effort is in an earlier blog below. Next month is 'Never Go Back'. I am thinking around that one, waiting (hoping) for inspiration.


Paintings are always a blessing, where would we be without art? Liz Ryan is an Irish American artist who I 'met' online. Her work is really outstanding and puts me in mind of Paul Henry's work and he is one of my most favourite artists (who also just happens to have been Irish).

Real coffee is my next blessing. I am hopeless but M makes lovely coffee and I need the caffeine kick this morning as I was very late to bed last night.


This leads me on to Afternoon Naps. OK I know I have probably used this one as a blessing before, but some days, especially when I am really tired and the weather is dire, then my bed calls me a little more loudly during the day. She tempts me in with a Good Book, but usually after a few pages with that indulgence then I am soon fast asleep. But hey ho......this means I can stay up late again tonight, it's hard being a night owl.


(I am back to work tomorrow morning so had better not be too late to bed tonight though).


I must mention the very kind Purplecoo folk who have been sending their Purple Healing Vibes, from far and wide, to someone in my neighbourhood. The power of positivity and love is truly amazing, would that it could be more widespread in our world.


M has just rescued a finch that was indoors on our kitchen window. Men have their uses so they will have to be another blessing. They have strength and are good at mending things..... they can sing with deep voices and ............and............come on there must be others??? Help me someone...


All this rain has lessened my hay fever symptoms dramatically. That is good news. It's stopped me gardening so I have been able to get on indoors with another writing project. I haven't been sunburnt. Haven't done any of the outside painting that I had planned to do (is that a blessing? I don't think so, strike it out).


Listened to music more. (I know that is bad English - see next sentence).


I have been more lazy (now we're talking, this is more like it), I've read more, I've written more.


I've Looked Forward more.....for surely there must be Good Weather somewhere on the horizon.


(Anyone seen Summer?)




Bye for now,

Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Cait









Record of the Week - No Air - Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown

Friday, 4 July 2008

Arte Y Pico Award


Wow! I'd just like to thank.............. oh shut me up............



I have got an award! It's called the Arte Y Pico award and I believe it was birthed in Portugal. I am so pleased and honoured especially as dear Exmoor Jane awarded it to me. She is an accomplished author who also writes a wonderful must-read blog about the diary of a desperate Exmoor woman. Not to be missed, anything that Jane writes.

Conditions with this award come attached (don't they always?) but they are quite simple. I have to nominate five other bloggers who I consider to be worthy of receiving such an award.
Here are the 5 rules of the award (it’s all rather strict)

1. You have to pick five blogs that you consider ‘deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and which contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language they are in’.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone. (or what?)
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given him/her the award itself (once again, it’s a bit bossy but I suppose if you invent an award you can set whatever rules you like – whether you choose to follow them or not is entirely up to you).
4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the Arte y Pico blog so that everyone will know the origin of the award.
5. To show these rules.

But choosing just five is not simple as there are so many blogs I love out there.

After much deliberation I have been forced to whittle it down and here are the nominations. I chose them for their effect on the senses which make them all worth a visit and for me a visit to their pages is always a life enriching experience..

In alphabetical order they are: (you can tell I am a sad librarian).


Blossom. Why? She is a wonderful artist, a fantastic photographer as well but hers is more than just a photographic blog - her writings are beautiful and many of her postings stay in the memory.

Lane's Write. Why? Her writing is just so delicious, you do almost want to eat her words and I am totally addicted to her blog. Its subject matter varies, is always so intelligent, humorous and really inspiring.

Pipany. Ah dear Pipany, to visit her blog is a treat for every one of the senses and it is a treat not to be missed. I will say no more. Just go see.

Tom Foolery This blog cannot be categorised which is probably why I go for it; there is a taste of originality and it is another of my must-reads. It's different, so funny and there is always something on the page to make me think.

Un Peu Loufoque- The Adventures of Un Peu Loufoque are the humorous tales of the life of the Loufoque household, a family of some social standing living in central Brittany at some time during the two world wars. Dates are a trifle vague, as are many things about Un Peu Loufoque. The stories tell the daily trials and tribulations of a well brought up innocent abroad in the world.
This tale deserves a wider readership. There are other links to follow as well featuring the huge artistic talents of this blogger.


So there we have them. Do visit and enjoy.

And thanks again Jane!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Homework

This is a piece of homework for my local writing group. The subject for June was 'The Toss of a Coin'





Coin of the Realm

A Story-of-Sorts in the Making

by Cait O'Connor



Any similarity to a child’s primary school composition is highly likely.

Warning. May contain cliches.





(The Beginning. Background to character).


I answer to the name of Lucre.

In polite circles I am a ‘medium of exchange‘.

Honest money, that’s me, I may not be precious metal like my ancestors who dressed in gold and silver and lived amongst treasure in luxurious surroundings.

I still belong to the ‘Ready’ gang.
OK, OK, I know I’m not in with the big papery gangs ‘The Notes’; I admit I’m only ‘Small Change’, but in the wealth stakes I am still pretty Hard Cash.

I’ve been around just as much as those Big Guys; I could tell you a tale or two, I’ve been in some sticky situations, ah the pockets, the purses I‘ve slept in…. Just don’t get me started that’s all.

I’m still a coin of the realm don’t you know? I come from the Royal Mint. Where do you come from eh? Anything Royal?

I thought not.

(Middle Bit. Stay with it),

I used to be given away quite a bit; I still am from time to time and when that happens I may end up in some charity collecting box or other. Only the kind and generous folk put me there though. But I don’t mind; I’m the same as them, I like to feel I am ‘doing good’. I’m never ever given to children any more though, there must be some dark reason, I know not what.

My dad, he was a Copper, no don’t laugh, it’s true, some folk called him a Penny but round these parts, where we woz minted, well we woz known as Coppers.

I have cousins who were Tanners and an Uncle Bob.

Well, we all have an Uncle Bob don’t we?

I’ve done my family tree (haven’t we all?)

My Grandad, well he was a Florin married to a Farthing and there are Sovereigns in my line, I’m sure of it.

At least I’m still genuine. What you get is what you see , there’s nothing counterfeit about me.

(Warning. Sad part coming up).

The times they are a changing…..

If I fall to the ground nowadays most folk will still see me lying face down in the dirt but now they just walk right past me. Once upon a time their faces would have lit up, they would have exclaimed joyfully and bent down to rescue me from some dark pavement.

Ah those were the days.

How cruel some people are.

Recently I’ve heard some people say that I and others like me, are worthless. I have to say that this really hurts and it’s made me feel that my life is without meaning. Debased and cheapened - that’s how it makes me feel.

(Happy ending?)

But life can still be worth living sometimes! The special days and it doesn’t happen often (but when it does I am known to shine once more). The treasured moments when I hear those three or four magic words from a human.

‘Lets toss for it’ or ‘Toss a coin’.

Then I feel mighty powerful and pretty superior if I’m honest, because none of the Big Guys hold this Special Power of mine.

What is this power, you may ask?

I can change the course of events in a pretty big fashion.

Just ask me, for example:

Do things your way or mine?

Become a scary monster or a handsome prince?

Live this end of the street or the other?

Write a story or a song?

Sleep under the stars or in a palace?

Become a gambler or abstain altogether?

Move to Wales or to Scotland?

Stay alive and go to the pub or commit suicide?

(Serious stuff).

Just watch me as I flip……..

Heads or tails anyone?





**Footnote
The choices in the last section relating to the tossing of the coin were the ones mentioned in the work submitted by the other members of our writing group (so far). Sort of private joke really so that explains why they may seem a little obscure.

Do You Believe in Fairies?

Dear Diary.

Clouds, Joni Mitchell, audio only.



Cloudwatching is one of my favourite occupations. This is probably one of my top five songs of all time. Even the lyrics alone would make it a most- loved, yet tear-inducing poem. Do take the time to listen. I only posted it because the fairytale line came up in my headphones as I was typing this blog. Another coincidence?.......





All things by immortal power
Near or far
Hiddenly

To each other linked are

That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star

Francis Thompson


There are so many wonderful fairy illustrations from favourite artists of mine from Cecily May Barker to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

There is an old book on my shelves called Fairies in Legend and the Arts by Alison Packer, Stella Beddoe and Lianne Jarrett, published in 1980, It was withdrawn by the library service but I rescued it for the price of just one pound. It contains illustrations by the usual fairy artists: Cruickshank, Rackham, Jessie M King and many others. I gleaned much from it to help me write this blog entry.



I have a much-loved fairy artist Trudi Finch who has a studio in Wales. Here, the pic below, (not the one above) is an example of her work. She is the Celtic Fairy.




Why am I blogging about fairies? There has been a discussion in Purplecooland posed by a question in the forums (and a poll!).

Do you believe in fairies?

Of course I voted ‘Yes’ though I have never seen one and probably never will - though I said that about ghosts once and was to be surprised.

Fairies and gnomes all belong to the group known as the elementals and their existence and mention of them can be traced back to the twelfth century. They have many names these elemental folk : goblins, hobgoblins, brownies, boggarts, sprites, Mer-people, The Good People, The Gentry, People of Peace and of course the Irish Little People.

Fairies in some places were thought of as Fallen Angels and that is where their ownership of wings came from as their stories evolved through literature. Humans’ understanding of fairies has changed through the ages, much of it down to their many kinds of representation in literature. But love and sometimes-belief in them still persists and it is enjoying a renasissance at the moment.

Many people believe in other (spiritual) realms inhabited by spiritual beings which sometimes come into contact with our own. ‘Twas ever thus. I have seen a ghost on two occasions. I care not if folk believe me or not - until you see one yourself you are likely waiting to be convinced.

So what is the earliest written account of fairies from the twelfth century? Ironically enough, as I live in the Cambrian mountain region of Wales, it was in a story handed down by Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) in a chronicle Itinerarium Cambriaie (translated in Penguin classics). Funnily enough a contact of mine has written an article about this chap Gerald and it was published recently in Country Quest which is a fine Welsh magazine. I have also linked my sister-in-law to dear Gerald as an ancestor so he seems to be haunting me somewhat does our Gerry.

There were many sightings of fairies in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and much literature had a fairy theme including much from a favourite poet and mystic, William Blake no less.

There was a revival in the nineteenth century. Theories abound - lost souls, a pygmy race, fallen angels denied access to Heaven and Hell , this latter was most widespread in Ireland where we Irish see them as gentle folk and beautiful.

The Puritans sometimes saw them as no better than devils probably because the white witches seemed to confess to knowledge of Fairyland but they denied there was evil in it.

Another idea is that they are creatures of the imagination. We can get into deeply metaphysical water here - is all life but a dream, imagined and produced by our thoughts and our I-magi nation? Do our thoughts produce our reality? I happen to believe they do but that is another story. I believe that we give fuel to energies such as evil and if we poured love on them instead then they would nor enflame us. But I shall save the subject of creative visualisation for another time.

Back to fairies. The tradition is still strong in Scotland and Ireland.

Talking of Scotland.

And talking of elementals, I read a book years ago that has always stayed with me. It is The Findhorn Garden written by the Findhorn community, I am sure you know it. It tells the story of a Scottish garden created out of a small area of wasteland, just a caravan and a row of beans that developed into more than a garden, it became a spiritual community fuelled by faith and love, accompanied by the sighting of devas and nature spirits.

Everything we grow grows BIG and we always share a joke about Findhorn as the same thing happened there - everything they grew was massive in size!

I will come back to this subject of fairies as I have only just got going, there is so much written on the subject and so many beautiful works of art to share.

I’ll sign off now with a few pics of my own fairies who live all over the garden, not just at the bottom. M was lucky enough to capture these images with his camera.



















Look out for yours!

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait,