Artist

Alexander Averin

Monday, 28 December 2009

From a train, lightly

From a Train, Lightly

Sentinel trees hold sway
standing watch through back-lit mists
across the anonymous valley.
Emerging from the white fog
the outline of a black farmhouse,
I am half expecting
a troubled Cathy or
an emotionally disturbed Heathcliffe
to emerge from the door.

The unseen river
divulges its presence
by a meandering, fluid cloud
of pale grey.
Flat flood-mirrors
grip leafless trees against
a pink-silver streaked sky
as the rumour of a sun becomes clear.

Dawn, ageless beauty, exits
a la droit
as startled sheep again scatter
from the nant’s edge.
We are speeding now towards the light
still hidden by the ubiquitous hills.
A lonely, lost heron mistakes a puddle
for a breakfast pond.

©Christopher Challener December 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Once in Royal David's City





The text that goes with this is in the next post, I had a job posting it.

Just a few seasonal thoughts


A Painting by Pollyanna Pickering


Dear Diary,

Once in royal Davids city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.


I’ve been thinking about Christmas, well you can’t escape it really can you? As I drove home from work last night I heard the carol Once in Royal David’s City on the radio, it was sung so beautifully by a choir, I forget which one. I found it very moving, a story plainly told with due relevance and reverence, it was all there. The line where a mother laid her baby has always brought a tear to my eye. Perhaps thinking of an unmarried mother, homeless in a strange land, reliant on charity is something close to my heart. I got to thinking about the story of the birth of Jesus, the nativity tale that we are told from childhood and I wondered again about its truth in historical fact. We know Jesus existed but how can we be certain about the circumstances of his birth? I believe he was a healer, a holy man, a mystic, a psychic, a prophet indeed , but not the only one that has walked the Earth amongst us. And what he preached was quite simply love and that is all there is. We should take heed of this all year, not just at Christmas.

There are things I hate about Christmas but when I started totting up I discovered that there were many that I love.

Shall I start with the negatives?

Things I hate.

The pressure on women.
The pressure on everyone to consume.
The element of competition that creeps in, the need for everything to be perfect just like in the magazines and now the TV programmes that have popped up with Delia, Nigella, Kirsty and even Rick Stein.
Music in shops (if you can call it music).
Tackiness everywhere you look.
Overindulgence.
The loss of its true meaning.
The hijacking of the Winter Festival by the Christians many many moons ago.
Enforced jollity.
The Queen’s speech.
Repeats on TV.
Crackers, far too expensive, always disappointing.
Pressure to conform, I have always resisted that.
Most of all I hate the fact that it all starts far too early.
The phrase Are you ready for Christmas?
The very people, the over-zealous types who start Christmas far too early are the very ones always moaning just after Christmas and cannot wait to take their decorations down! Don’t they know that Christmas starts on Christmas Eve and that is the proper day to bring in the tree and decorate the house?


Things I love?

Snow, a white Christmas is magical, I love it when it starts to snow on Christmas Day for the first time, alas that won’t happen this year but it might well be a white one.

Carols, their words are pure poetry and the music heavenly.

Red candles.

Fairy lights indoors and understated outdoor lights in trees, I am going to look for some solar lights today. I have fairy lights up in the parlour and will probably keep them up all year. The spirits love them as much as they love bright colours.

Evergreens, holly, ivy, laurel and pine.
Holly wreaths on doors.

Spicy smells. I had a lovely essential oil last year, a special Christmas blend, I must try and track it down.

Brown paper parcels, bright ribbons, hand made labels written out in beautiful italic script.

I love those nativity cribs, I don’t own one but one would look nice on the cottage windowsill.

I don’t send cards, I donate to a charity instead but I always pick a favourite from the ones I do receive. This year’s winner features a picture of a country kitchen with a Rayburn, below which is a sheepdog like mine and a tiny lamb curled up together. It is from a painting called Keeping Warm by Pollyannna Pickering, great name. The winner is usually an angel so this will be a change.

I would like to say I enjoy the alcoholic drinks associated with Christmas but I have had to give up the demon drink because of my migraines. I will so miss Baileys, sherry, brandy, whisky, mulled wine. Not all at once though…. I will be content with grape or cranberry juice or tonic water.

Same goes for chocolate but I will get vicarious pleasure from watching the men in my household tucking in to chocolates.

Christmas pudding I will enjoy, just a wee bit with custard as I shall be too full of roast dinner, rib of Welsh beef, Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, carrots, horseradish. Yes I know I said I abhorred overindulgence!

Mince pies are nice too with a blob of cream.

Children make Christmas for me, I love to feel their excitement and see the happiness on their faces.
I miss Father Christmas, he used to visit when the children were small. That was the time I really loved Christmas because with children ‘therein the magic lies’ but sadly those days of childhood went too quickly.

I love watching others opening presents, that always brings me joy. But I would rather give spontaneously than feel it is an obligation at Christmas.

I don’t want any presents and have asked folk not to buy for me. I don’t need anything and am trying to simplify my life. Just lately I have been getting a good feeling from getting rid of stuff, I certainly don’t want to accumulate more.

But I am having the best present I could wish for this year - my fourth grandchild is due any moment, s/he was expected on the Winter Solstice. I can’t think of anything that will bring me more happiness than holding the new baby in my arms.

I wish you all great happiness over the Christmas period too and not just for Christmas, let’s keep the goodwill and the love going for each and every day.

Thank you for visiting my blog and if you have read all of these ramblings…..congratulations.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Friday, 18 December 2009

All Things Radio

Dear Diary,

I shed a tear this morning (I do so at the drop of a hat these days) because I caught the ending of Terry Wogan’s last programme on Radio 2. I bet I am not the only one.

Also on the radio theme.

I have been listening to Dear Granny Smith which is Book of the Week on Radio 4 this week; I haven’t been able to hear it all but what I have heard has been very moving especially if you work in public service as I do and can empathise with a lot of his experience. So much of it I understood and could identify with, working in public libraries as I do which are also under extreme threat.

If you want to break a civilisation you close libraries, it has happened in the past.
Just an aside here….something struck me as odd, interesting, infuriating (pick what word you like) when I heard we were giving Pakistan money to set up libraries for the people........????

I digress again forgive me, back to the Royal Mail, for which I have nothing but the highest praise.

Roy Mayall is a postman. 50 something. Lives down south and has been doing his round for "a number of years". Roy has the most fascinating blog detailing his working life and he portrays a wonderful view of life within the Royal Mail.

His book, 'Dear Granny Smith: A letter from your postman', is currently the Radio 4 Book of the Week. "A letter from your postman written by Roy Mayall and delivered by Philip Jackson; a heartfelt musing on the past, present and future role of one of the oldest British institutions, the Postie. Why postmen used to have the best job in the world, and why it's heading towards becoming the worst"

There is to be a discussion on issues raised by the programme on Radio 4 at midday today, I must try and catch it.

Also on Radio 4 this morning I caught Carol Ann Duffy on Woman’s Hour talking about poetry (of course) and she read this poem - I thought it tied in well with the postal theme.

Christmas In Envelopes

Monks are at it again, quaffing, carousing;
And stage-coaches, cantering out of Merrie England,
In a flurry of whips and fetlocks, sacks and Santas.

Raphael has been roped in, and Botticelli;
Experts predict a vintage year for Virgins.

From the theologically challenged, Richmond Bridge,
Giverny, a lugger by moonlight, doves. Ours

Costs less than these in money, more in time;
Like them, is hopelessly irrelevant,
But brings, like them, the essential message
love

U A Fanthorpe

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Voices





The Other Elizabeth Taylor



Dear Diary,


You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

Ray Bradbury


Once again it has been too long time since my last posting and I do humbly apologise. My computer has been very poorly, it went on an absolute go-slow and had to have a spell in a local hospital for computers with some expert intensive care. It is back now thoroughly rejuvenated and raring to go with faster speeds than it has ever had and with more memory installed. To think I thought it was on the way out and was ready to throw it out the window such was my anger.

Wish I could go somewhere and have similar treatment for today I am a wee bit slow and poorly myself as I have a very sore throat and have lost my voice. It came on suddenly so I guess it is the laryngitis type virus which has been doing the rounds. (Some may call it a blessing perhaps, my loss of voice? But I say that if I lose my voice it can also be to my advantage as I don’t have to answer people if I don’t want to).

There is not much news to report. The monsoon season continues and I think we are probably into our sixth week of rain, it could be more.

Thank God for books I say and music and Strictly on TV, all pure escapism that I am happy to admit to. I may not be able to speak but I can read , I can watch and I can listen.

I have been doing a bit more on M’s family tree and was very excited the other night when I discovered that he is related to Elizabeth Taylor, no not the actress but the famous novelist. Now I am envious because I have not found anyone quite so illustrious in my family and a writer to boot.




I thought I would seek out a biography of said lady and lo and behold, one of those coincidences, her first and only biography was published in April of this year by Nicola Beauman of Persephone Books fame and we have copies in the library service. All are out on loan but I have placed a request for it. I have always admired Taylor and know several other people who do as well, little did I know that M was related to her.

I am reading a new book written by another of my favourite authors, Susan Hill. It is called Howards End is on the Landing, great title eh?


The subject is books and reading - a year of reading from home - so for a bibliophile like me it is pure heaven. Once I finish this blog post I will retire to my bed with honey, lemon and paracetamol and lose myself in her words. If you haven’t ever read Susan Hill, apart from this one I would recommend The Magic Apple Tree, it is one of my top ten favourites and a must-read book.

So that’s all for today, I have no energy for much more.

But I shall sign off with not one but two poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate. I watched the South Bank Show on Sunday night which featured Carol and was reminded again of two of my favourite poems.

Read.

Enjoy.


Prayer


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims1 sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. 2 Grade I piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


Carol Ann Duffy


A Child's Sleep


I stood at the edge of my child's sleep
hearing her breathe;
although I could not enter there,
I could not leave.

Her sleep was a small wood,
perfumed with flowers;
dark, peaceful, sacred,
acred in hours.

And she was the spirit that lives
in the heart of such woods;
without time, without history,
wordlessly good.

I spoke her name, a pebble dropped
in the still night,
and saw her stir, both open palms
cupping their soft light;

then went to the window. The greater dark
outside the room
gazed back, maternal, wise,
with its face of moon.


Carol Ann Duffy


Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Smoke rising above the showers

Dear Diary,

Rain, rain go away.  Come again another day.

Early this morning the sun was out, I could hardly believe it and I (almost) got up to rush out with the camera to capture the brightness, fearful that it would not last.  I should have acted on my instincts, it did not last and today has been showering heavily on and off and it has been dark, very dark.  I wanted to post some sunny pics for you but never mind, there will be sunshine one day, folk have told me so.

Today’s blog is as mixed as the weather, there are a few bits of sunshine but there is an angry raging section too.  Right at the end you will smell the smoke rising.

I have acquired a new library book, not a novel this time, it is Dara O’ Briain’s new one about the English.  I am not very far into it yet so I will report back another day with my opinion.  I wanted to read something funny and always find him laughter-inducing as a performer. 

This is a description of the book.





Tickling the English

Nostalgia, identity, eccentricity, gin drinking and occasional violence... these are just some of the themes that stand-up comedian Dara O Briain explores in Tickling the English. O Briain moved to England many years ago, but when he takes his show on tour around the country – from deserted seaside towns and remote off-shore islands, to sprawling industrial cities and sleepy suburbs and it's clear to him that his adopted home is still a bit of an enigma. Why do the English pretend to be unhappy all the time? Why can’t they accept they rank about 5th, in everything? And what’s with all the fudge? But this Irishman loves a challenge; he's certainly got the gregarious personality and the sure-fire wit to bring down the barriers of that famous English reserve, and have a good old rummage inside. Swapping anecdotes with his audiences and spending time wandering in their hometowns, this nosy neighbour holds England up to the light while exploring some of the attitudes he brought over here with him too. As Dara goes door-to-door in search of England in this part tour diary, part travelogue, the result is an affectionate, hilarious and often eye-opening journey through the Sceptred Isle.

There have been other blessings today, I felt rested after a long good night’s sleep in clean sheets and I have a day off from work.  It was very busy yesterday in the library, I think everyone is escaping the weather and losing themselves in books.  I have swept up even more wet leaves, got lots of indoor chores out of the way and that always makes me feel better.  I’ve written a poem too.

The debate about global warming has been in the news again, re. does it exist or is it a fabrication?  Global warming or not there is definitely climate change, the winds are stronger, the rainfall heavier and floods are becoming commonplace.  It’s almost as if the Earth is showing its anger at Man's greed and the rape, violence and plunder it is experiencing.

I shall finish with something serious.  This is not just a rant, it is both alarming and outrageous.  I want to draw people’s attention to the fact that cancer drugs (and other drugs too) are in very short supply because pharmacists are taking advantage of the state of our pound and are selling drugs abroad in order to make more money.  A very good friend of mine has been experiencing difficulties in obtaining her supply of a drug called letrazole that she has to take on a daily basis.  And not only a friend of mine, I have too!  My friend C was told that there are only ten  packs of our particular drug left in South Wales.  C and I take this drug as a preventative measure but it is also given to patients with advanced breast cancer. So lives will be lost if their medicines are not available to them.  My friend’s pharmacist actually told her that he has been asked to send a photocopy of her prescription to the wholesaler in order to get two month’s supply of letrazole!  This surely goes against the data protection act apart from anything else. This time last week  I had a real to-do with two local pharmacies and eventually got my three month’s worth - thanks to G my breast care nurse from Cardiff (a real angel flying too close to the ground) who acted swiftly on my behalf and contacted said pharmacies. 

So that’s all for today, C and I are on the case and will be contacting our Welsh Assembly member and our hospital consultants who have prescribed the drug to us.  My GP did not seem particularly caring when I rung her about it, she feigned ignorance on the matter even though it has been in the Times and the Observer and all over the Internet. She said I should order the drug two weeks in advance and when I said I had to travel 22 miles to get my tablets and that they very often have none in stock when I get there - even before all this blew up - she more or less blamed me for living in the country. 

Watch this space,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit.
Cait

Monday, 23 November 2009

Mood




Dear Diary,

Our river has gone down a little and when I wake it isn’t actually raining. This state of affairs doesn’t last long though and then when I switch on the radio I hear sad news - a woman is missing after she fell into the River Usk at Brecon and then there is coverage of the ongoing suffering in the flood-stricken county of Cumbria. I am reminded, as if I needed to be, of the supreme power of Nature and I can foresee that these cataclysmic floods will soon become too commonplace for comfort. When will governments realise/own up that climate change is the real terrorist hiding in our shadows? We should not be at war in far off countries (for dubious reasons) killing innocents and sacrificing our young soldiers but rather fighting to save Planet Earth of which we are all citizens. I feel we are not taking it seriously enough and just paying minimum lip service to the environmental cause. If we go on like this it will become too late - I really pity the world we are leaving to our grandchildren and great grandchildren and I carry some guilt along with that pity.

I have started reading Banville’s The Infinities. It could not be less like Love and Summer and I am not sure I am in the mood for it. It reads like another Booker winner for him though - Banville won it in 2005 with The Sea. I loved The Sea but the subject matter of his latest book is depressing me, even the parts which I can see are meant to be darkly humorous. I am always being reminded that sometimes a book will only work when the mood of the reader fits. I am in low mood today, can’t you just tell?

So here is a poem by the dear departed John O’Donohue.

Just for me.

It is not even nightfall and yet various things have unnerved me today and sometimes only these words will do.


Beannacht (Blessing)


On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.


John O'Donohue




Bye for now,
Cait

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A Good Read




Dear Diary,

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it.

William Styron






After a night broken by thunder and lightning the monsoon season continues and we spend a lot of time watching the river to check if the water level has reached the bridge yet. The garden is one big Sog and I only venture out to empty the compost bin. We lit the woodburner this morning to cheer the cottage and even the dogs are happy to stay in by the fireside.



Today I did something I haven’t done in a long while - I read a book in one sitting. It was Love and Summer by William Trevor and I can highly recommend it. It takes a very special book to keep me in my armchair for four hours but this one is THE book. I had forgotten that it has been Booker short listed but I think it deserves to win and I am not biased just because it is an Irish novel. This man writes like a dream, the setting is an old Ireland and the pace is slow but it draws you in. It is unashamedly old-fashioned and very moving; I would say it is his best book yet. It did put me in mind of Colm Toibin's Brooklyn, if you haven't read that one it is another must-read,

I am starting John Banville’s The Infinities next, I will report back on that one.

Are there any blessings? Apart from books?

Well there are poems, here is one by one of my favourite poets, Czeslaw Milosz.


And Yet The Books

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are, ” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.


Czeslaw Milosz


Bye for now,
Happy Reading,
Cait

PS Here is another must-read.
Talking of books I have been meaning to recommend this blog for all teenagers who love reading.
It is called Wondrous Reads
http://cityofbooks.blogspot.com/

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nemesis, David Gray


Neath an avalanche - soft as moss
I'm a creeping and intangible sense of loss
I'm the memory you can't get out your head
If I leave you now
You'll wish you were somewhere else instead
I'm the manta ray - I'm the louse
I am a photograph they found in your burned out house
I'm the sound of money washing down the drain
I am the pack of lies baby that keeps you sane
Gates of Heaven are open wide
God help me baby I'm trapped inside
Feel like I'm buried alive
I'm the bottom line - of the joke
I am ecstasy - spilling like bright egg yolk
I'm the thoughts you're too ashamed to ever share
And I am the smell of it - you're trying to wash out of you hair
Gates of Heaven are open wide
God help me baby I'm lost inside
Feel like I'm buried alive
Possibilities limitless
Just give me something that's more than this
One shot and I'll never miss
yes
I'm the babe that sleeps through the blitz
I am a sudden and quite unexpected twist
I am your one true love who sleeps with someone else
I am your nemesis
Baby I'm life sweet life itself

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The storm has passed

Dear Diary,






Music by Halle


Do not believe in anything because you have heard it.  Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.  Do not believe in anything simply because it is found in your religious books.  Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.  Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.  But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Buddha
Hindu prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism 563-483 BC



Well the rain is still falling; it seems as though the Welsh monsoon season has arrived and today it’s that slow, steady, quiet kind of rain, dropping in a soft way onto the already sodden ground.  The river is behaving itself so far but we followed the course of the River Wye in the car yesterday, down to Hay and it was already up to the top of its banks.  

We had battened all the hatches and were on high flood alert yesterday but the gales that were forecast were not as bad here as predicted, I think they were at their peak overnight but we may have missed the worst of the weather for a change. 

I had stocked up with food and had meals planned for a few days - I’m not usually this organised but I am in hibernation mode and comfort eating always accompanies the survival of Winter as far as I am concerned.  That and nice log fires and books of course.

And I’ve more books!  A lot of new books are published at this time of year, ready for Christmas. 

There are two men I hold in high esteem, one is my hero Tony Benn who is 84 now.  Whatever your politics may be he is a man of high intelligence and the words he writes are laced with great wisdom.  I have borrowed his latest book, Letters to my Grandchildren. Thoughts on the Future.   If you are tempted to read this do also read his book Dare to be a Daniel because this is another great read.  All his books come highly recommended, there are many to choose from.

Don’t tell anyone but I’ve fallen for another man just lately, it is Monty Don - I blogged about him just the other day. I reluctantly returned  his Ivington Diaries to the library this week as there is a waiting list for the book. 

Monty is another ‘sweet heart‘, a beautiful and a gentle man in the truest sense and such a gifted writer, I think whatever he wrote about I would read  because he writes from the heart, his words flow with passion and an enthusiasm that just shines and inspires.  That is a word I love… enthusiasm - it comes from the Greek… en theos… from God. 

I am now reading his book My Roots.  A Decade in the Garden which is made up of articles he wrote for The Observer and Monty admits in its introduction that he always wanted to be a writer, not a gardener. To my mind it is obvious that he is a very successful gardener but he is first and foremost a writer.

It is not only men who write sense.  I have just read Janet Street Porter’s latest book. Don’t let the B******* get you down.  I am a great fan of JSP and I do recommend her book although I have to say that with me she is preaching to the converted and I already practise and am prone to preach most of what she espouses.

So are there any other blessings on this wild, wet day?

Welsh lamb stew bubbling away on the hob, dumplings to be added soon. 

The woodburner is lit and a stack of logs is at the ready.

Television.  Sometimes it is just the thing, usually when I am tired and want to flop.

And it’s Sunday tomorrow, my favourite day.

Before I go here is a poem - and it is written by another octogenarian, Maya Angelou.


Touched by an Angel

  
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.






Have a great weekend,

Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.

Monday, 9 November 2009

About profusion

Dear Diary,





How long should a cyclamen flower? I have one in a pot which lives on a windowsill in my cottage that I bought last Christmas. It has flowered since then and not just a few, it blossoms in abundance. the flowers seem everlasting, the whole plant is amazingly healthy and somehow radiant. I took advice on the best way of watering these plants as before I had not kept them flowering for long and had always planted them outside when their flowering days seemed over - under the pine trees on the riverbank, where they always surprise me come springtime. I have blogged about them in the past.

A very wise and very experienced plantswoman by the name of Withy Brook told me not to water from below, not to stand the pot in water but just to keep the soil moist and water regularly from above. I have never fed this cyclamen, well only with loving glances and the occasional stroke, just to keep it happy you understand. I don’t think I have ever spoken to it though I do speak to some of my babies.

Here is a photo of said plant.






Soon I will endeavour to make babies from this plant and so may have to consult dear Withy once more.

That’s enough about plants.

On to books.

I have another gem to recommend, this is our latest book group choice and it is yet another American novel, The 19th Wife by the rather good looking author David Ebershoff.





There are so many great American and Canadian writers aren’t there? This one is a thickish tome but I would wager that its size will not daunt you once you start reading it. I won’t say too much as I always think it is off-putting to have too many preconceptions about a book before reading it. All I will say is that it is impressive writing, very well constructed and seems to have been researched in great depth from an historical perspective. It is one of those books whose subject matter stayed on my mind even when I wasn’t reading it and I am still thinking about it now it is finished. I've been thinking about (in no particular order) men and even more about women, about sexual orientations, about power, evil, child abuse, religious faith, cults, marriage and of course polygamy. Parts of the book are chilling, nauseous even, though there is some fine humour within its pages. I am looking forward to our book group meeting and hearing how other members got on with it. I will report back.

And now for something completely different. I am going to read The Return Journey which is the latest offering by the dear Irish writer Maeve Binchy; this one will make a change as they are short stories. I have also added to my book mountain Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures. Apart from the book mountain at my bedside I have an ever-growing list of titles recommended to me by enthusiastic readers at the library.

So many books so little time.

I often wonder how others manage their time? Can anyone tell me how to lengthen a day? I have so much writing to do, blogs to read, my own to write (more often) and so many poems to bring to life that are labouring in my head (as well as an ongoing novel) That is apart from other projects I have on the go. Sometimes I envy retired folk but there is no use looking forward to those days as I know I shall have to work till I drop.

So I shall sign off now but would love to hear how you ’spend’ your days, how you decide whether to read or to write, to garden or to walk, to cook or to not cook, to go to bed at a sensible time or to stay up late, to do housework or to ignore it, to go out or stay in………………I could go on.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.

Monday, 2 November 2009

November

Dear Diary,






Today.

Samhain left us quietly and October was pleasant, warm and perfectly well-behaved to the very end.  That month has given way now to All Souls Day, the first day of November.

October may have been undemanding but November came in like a new born baby making himself known in a big way.  I blame myself, I should not have badmouthed him in a previous post.

As you may know our cottage sits beside a mountain stream and we woke yesterday to an unfolding drama,  heavy rain and rising waters; the field was awash in a big way, luckily for us the flood water was heading that way and not towards the cottage, not yet anyway.  I had not heard the rain but it must have been torrential all night. I had slept silently and dreamlessly fully expecting any rough weather to arrive during the day but No, this baby had come early.

*
Yesterday.

The waters are rising and even though it goes against the grain because it is a Sunday morning I must rise too, I dress quickly and don my wellies and rain gear.  Once outside it is already dramatic, the sound of the wind, the roaring of the water and the extent of its spread.  We know what to do now though, it is a race against time, experience guides us as we have been flooded before.  Everything is moved, anything that could float away.  We must move things before they are moved for us.  In the past we have lost benches, tables, chairs etc.  We rescue the mowers and the chainsaw from the shed;  pots, tables, chairs, ornaments and bits and pieces I value, even the bird feeding station, all are moved to higher, safer ground.

It rains on, waters rush by and  rise.

I have a great time then sweeping the leaves, both our own and those that have swept downstream in the flood.  I clear them all and send them on their way further down the river.  It was a job waiting to be done so I feel quite pleased about that.

We watch giant pooh sticks sail by and wonder if they will go left into the field and be future firewood or if they will go straight on and end up who knows where. 

The wind is very strong and we wonder if any trees will come down anywhere, not here because we are in a fairly sheltered valley but we know if the wind is strong here then it will be very wild elsewhere.   The bridge has been covered in debris, mainly wood and leaves and it strongly resembles Niagara Falls now but God willing the bridge itself will not move this time as it is now jammed against a tree.  A new kind of island has appeared in the field and we know that the river course will be altered again.  ‘Twas ever thus.   I thank God it has made a good flood plain though and  the cottage has not been put at risk.

Even so we phone the local council emergency line as the water is edging towards the back door, it is about twelve feet away but we know from past experience how quickly it can move.  Even though it is a Sunday it is not too long before the sandbag angels arrive (Aren’t they wonderful?  Full credit to our local council) and the men lay the bags snugly at our threshold and leave us some spares too.

Then at last everything calms, the rain eases and then stops, the waters recede slowly but not completely.  We are safe and we can relax,  We take the dogs into the field, going round the main road way and we survey the damage, wading through the floods we take a few more photos and then return to the cottage for a well earned hot cuppa.

November has settled now and like any new baby, this new month has quietened at last…..until the next time. 

And today there is no drama, no excitement and the river too is quiet, she does not cry, she only murmurs.

Bye for now,
Cait

PS  I am still reading Monty’s Ivington Diaries and have discovered that he too lives by a river, the Arrow, his garden is flooded sometimes and the water in the past has come to his back door.  That is comforting in a way especially as he thinks it is a beautiful sight and considers himself lucky in that the flood water is clean and brings not rubbish or anything disgusting with it but only lovely silt to the garden.  Dear Monty, he is a man after my own heart.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Veil



Dear Diary,

It Is Samhain, the end of Summer and the end of the Celtic Year. This word has been hijacked and is now in English Halloween. (All Hallows Eve). I do prefer Samhain, it has a beauty to it, it is soft and gentle while Halloween is too harsh for me. I just love words, they are like food to me and when I am in the dreaming stage or in the actual process of writing a poem the desire for words is like a hunger and finding the right ones is satisfying that need.

It is the time today when the Veil between our worlds, ours and the one our ancestors inhabit is the thinnest and spiritual communication can pass back and forth. I shall not write of ghoulies and ghosties but you can read my own personal ghost story on an older posting of mine - just type in ghost in the search engine on the right and you can read of my own true experience. Do leave a comment. I would do a link but I fear it may not work.

I have always been aware of spirits, my earliest experience began when I was six years old which was when my (lost) mother passed from this world. My mother and I were actually inescapably and tragically parted even earlier when I was a toddler but she has never been lost to me though as she always sits at my shoulder, she whispers to me and I can feel her sweet softness. Sometimes she strokes my shoulder everso gently. She has been a guiding hand all my life and I ‘take her instructions’ as it were. She has also communicated with others in my family. So I have lived with reassurance all my life and do not fear death. You don’t have to believe me, I am not worried about that. The world is full of sceptics.

I have other experiences too; angels send me white feathers when I am in need and we have an antique clock in our little snug which chimes only very occasionally and always when there is something going on, some trouble or worry in the family. Sometimes I walk through the little room and it will chime as I leave and sometimes it will do so in the middle of the night. I know our loved ones are not lost and that they are waiting behind the veil of invisibility, there where God or the Light is, in truth and in eternity, a forever land which is just biding its time as we learn our own particular lessons here on Earth. It is a time for remembering the departed, those who have given up their earthly clothing and a time for welcoming all spirits, even those yet to be born .

A time for sweet foods too, so that is a cause for celebration in itself. I will make do with feasting on fudge and bowl(s) of pancakes with ice cream; it is strange but I have such a sweet craving today. I cannot eat chocolate because it has started to give me migraines again so I have resorted to buying myself fudge; it is delicious though and gives much needed energy which is a bonus. I hide it away from the chocolate eaters in the household though, it is mine, all mine!

And now as Winter comes in it is a time for Rest, Renewal and Planning.

I love all those things.

Happy Samhain to you,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.

PS Today's Samhain poem can be found on the previous post.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Samhain

Halloween began in Ireland as Samhain and I shall write some more about that tomorrow but for now I am going to post a goodnight blessing from the late John O’ Donohue.

God rest his soul, he is very much missed.

But he is still with us.



On Passing a Graveyard


May perpetual light shine upon
The faces of all who rest here.

May the lives they lived
Unfold further in spirit.

May the remembering earth
Mind every memory they brought.

May the rains from the heavens
Fall gently upon them.

May the wildflowers and grasses
Whisper their wishes into the light.

May we reverence the village of presence
In the stillness of this silent field.


John O’ Donohue

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Monty Don

Dear Diary,







The Solitary Digger Paul Henry

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749-1832




This was going to be a rant.

I was going to blog  at length today about the NHS, about the daylight robbery that is the cost of parking In English hospitals (£9.50 yesterday for a stay of just over five hours). I was going to blog about the abysmal state of our NHS, the bad management, (the over-management). The waiting around without any information, the too many people walking round with bits of paper, the patronising attitude of some local practice nurses and radiographers, the groups of hospital nurses standing round talking while people are suffering…..stop me now.  I write as an ex-nurse and I know  there are many angels in the medical profession but not all are by any means. 

Of course it's not all bad.  I have so much  and so many people in the service to praise and may blog about them one day but I hear the horror stories on a regular basis now.

Rant over.

For reading a gem of a book in bed this morning has put me in a better frame of mind. Thank you Monty.

I just have to recommend this book to you if  you are even only slightly into gardening.
I mentioned it in an earlier blog ,  I was looking forward to reading it but was still only at the drooling stage.

Now I am about half way through.

I have read Monty Don’s books before because he is a lovely man and a good writer.  When someone’s writing is true and comes from the heart doesn’t it show?  I borrowed this copy of The Ivington Diaries from the library but I would love to own it and it would make a great Christmas present.

Many books can make you feel inadequate when you read them; many gardening and cookbooks often come into that category.  They are not inspiring then are they?  Monty writes with honesty and admits that there are days when he cannot garden, days when life and all its foibles gets in the way.  And he is honest about not doing all the work himself, his wife helps, his children help and he employs staff who he obviously appreciates and acknowledges their input.  So many people have fantastic magazine worthy gardens but never do a stroke of work in them themselves apart from a few cosmetic touches or the design.   But Monty works hard in the garden too and shows how it was started from absolute scratch.  I know Ivington as we toured the area when we were on my husband’s genealogy trail so that makes it even more close to home - it is not that far away.

It is not just about gardening.  It is laced with wisdom and the spirituality of  his natural surroundings shines through. And he mentions his pets and local people.   And good old common sense, useful tips and photos to drool over, Monty has an artistic eye for photography too.  I wish it was Spring because he has made me want to be out planning  and gardening myself. 

I haven’t checked if they have the same publisher but it is produced in the same format as Nigel Slater’s cookbooks (like the Kitchen Diaries and his latest one).  Nigel Slater is another man I admire so if you are looking for foody-book-type Christmas presents he is another author I would recommend. 

(I can’t believe it but I have just been guilty of mentioning the dreaded C word in October!.)

I will report back on The Ivington Diaries when I have read more as no doubt there are more treasures within its pages still to uncover.

And now for something completely different.  I have to leave you with a poem, for more distraction I read this poem this morning and will share it with you.


The Sunlight on the Garden



The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as freelances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.



 -- Louis MacNeice


Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

October

Dear Diary,

Just two of my favourite pics for you.
I adore harebells, they always appear at the end of summer.









Katherine Mansfield by Anne Estelle Rice


It’s a read-one-get-one-free day as I have posted two blogs for you - if you go to my other blog
Cait’s Photos you will see just a wee poem and a few photos I took yesterday on my morning walk in the garden and the field.

This year has flown - a really bad cliché for which I apologise.

October will soon be leaving us; she has been such a welcome guest this year, perfectly behaved, undemanding of my time garden-wise (the weeds seem to have gone to sleep already), no stormy outbursts or great floods of tears, and for me her stay has passed all too quickly.  She blessed us with endless dry spells, much needed sunshine, occasional morning and night frosts and her most beauteous gift of all, the show to beat all shows  - her morning mists in the valleys.

She tempted me outside more often than not and made my heart sing but as always happens during her stay, the dark evenings descend -  the human’s clock has fallen backwards now, an unsettling time for me and I ask again, is there still a need for this fiddling with the 24 hours by which we are ruled?  I was really tired on Saturday night and went to bed early but even on Sunday night I was tired again at 8 pm, my body thought it was nine.

November will arrive very soon and I am hard pushed to welcome him (why is this month masculine in my imagination?).  I shall try to be positive and think of his good aspects, log fires, comfort foods, layers of clothes, all things cosy really.  But I know the dreaded C word will be on everyone’s lips and this always throws me into a bit of a depression, as does Christmas itself.  The day itself is bearable when it comes but the whole season and the far too early over-hyped lead up to it with its other C word Consumerism, as well as other more personal reasons, make it for me a sad time.

January is a looked-forward-to-month, he is also male but he lifts me up again as I love new beginnings and challenges, resolutions and the like and lists, all things clean and new. There may be snowed-in days and the magical beauty they bring and there is always Spring not too far away.

Today though, October is as warm and sunny as summer and I am loath to be indoors - I have just walked the dogs in the field and really should be outside gardening or even 'just sitting' but I have lots do on the computer.  But thank you October for making this autumn as colourful and as beautiful as you have done. I have the rest of the week off and please God you will keep up this fine weather until you disappear to who knows where for another year.  And on Saturday, your final day with us, there will be a joyful celebration for it will be Halloween, the day when the veil between this world and the Other is the thinnest,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Too many books, too little time




Dear Diary,

You can never have too much garlic, too much chocolate or too much sleep but can you have too many books? (No!).

I wrote very recently about the wonderful book that is Home by Marilynne Robinson and since then several kind people have recommended her other book Gilead which kind of goes with it as the subject matter is written alongside Home. I wouldn’t say you had to read Home first, it wouldn’t matter which you began with. I have almost finished Gilead and it is also a great a book in fact Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with it.

I have also got her first novel Housekeeping which was very highly recommended by the book group member who suggested Home. This is a short novel written a good many years ago and l can’t wait to read it. But which book shall I read first?

It’s like buses, they all come at once. I have suddenly been inundated with new books to read - all requests from the excellent library service of course. What have I got?

John Banville’s The Infinities
William Trevor’s Love and Summer
Martin Sixsmith’s The Lost Child of Philomena Lee (the subject of which is too close to my heart).
Penelope Lively’s Family Album

In non-fiction I know I shall drool over Monty Don’s The Ivington Diaries. (M has an ancestor from Ivington which is a coincidence).
I also have Virginia Ironside’s The Virginia Monologues about the joys of ageing - I think I could write my own though!

And another joy to look forward to - I have treated myself and ordered a new book from Ireland - it has contributions from many well known poets - see below for details.

The Great Irish Book Week takes place from Saturday the 24th to Saturday the 31st October 2009. Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it, edited and compiled by Salmon Poetry managing editor Jessie Lendennie and published by Salmon earlier this year, has been selected as one of the 30 Great Irish Books featured during Great Irish Book Week.

So let it rain, I won’t mind as I can curl up with a book.

Blessings?

We drink a lot of Yorkshire tea in this house.

A carpet of pink rose petals greeted me on the path this morning as I went out to feed the rose bushes with my old teabags - I read somewhere that as well as coffee grounds, roses like tea and they certainly seem to be doing well on it. I am still deadheading and they are rewarding me with lots of blooms.

Autumn and all it means. I have blogged about this many times and every year it is always the same so I won’t repeat myself but I have to say that these last few weeks have been perfect weather for me - I am not a summer sun worshipper - and I have appreciated the October frosts, the sunny days and of course the mists in the valleys. Sometimes I think I prefer autumn to summer, it seems that way after the miserable July and August we had this year here in Wales.

I had a message left on my answer phone yesterday by a dear friend that I have never met, it was a real surprise and so lovely to hear her voice. (We met up on Purplecoo).

Weekends. Don’t they come round quickly? I don’t mind though as they are special aren’t they and even if I have to work for half of every Saturday I always love Sundays. I hope you have a good one.

Before I leave you I would like to share a poem written by Dorothy Molloy, a great Irish poet who sadly died this year after a short illness.

The golden retriever grieves for her mate


The hooded crows roost early now,
November trees are black.
The sun goes down at 4 p.m.
and leaves a blood-stained track.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

We calm her with valerian
and drops of chamomile,
infuse the roots of heliotrope
to soothe her for a while.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

His last night was a rasping breath
that laboured up the stairs
and filled the house, and lodged behind
her sleepless eyes and ears.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

She leans her head against our knees,
she follows us to bed
and lies stretched out upon the floor
as if she, too, were dead.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

Copyright © The estate of Dorothy Molloy, 2009


Dorothy Molloy was born in Ballina, Co. Mayo in 1942. She studied languages at University College Dublin, after which she went to live in Madrid and Barcelona. During her time in Spain, she worked as a researcher, as a journalist and as an arts administrator. She also had considerable success as a painter, winning several prizes and exhibiting widely. After her return to Ireland in 1979, she continued painting but also began writing poetry.

Her first collection, Hare Soup, was accepted by Faber and Faber, but Dorothy contracted cancer and died ten days before its publication. The papers she left after her death contained enough unpublished poems for two further books, which have been assembled by her husband, Andrew Carpenter. The first of these posthumous collections, Gethsemane Day, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. This volume, Long-distance Swimmer, is the final collection of her work.
Salmon Poetry, Knockeven,
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
www.salmonpoetry.com



Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait

Thursday, 8 October 2009

National Poetry Day

Dear Diary,

Anyone else watching Criminal Justice? I don't know why I put myself through such agony every night but I have started so I shall have to finish and watch two more episodes even though something tells me it is going to get much much worse.

Just a quick post today before I go off to work - it is National Poetry Day after all so I feel obliged to post a wee poem; here is my latest piece of homework for my writing group.

Enjoy the day and do seek out a poem for there are many treasures out there.






Retirement


One room contains him now
along with his commode,
his trouser press,
closet and chiffonier.
Tired of television and reading books on Hannibal,
he sits alone by the secretaire
and writes out his memoirs,
a transcript of a life that’s draining away,
somewhere down life’s plughole.
He mulls a lot on its proverbial depths
and other such foolish factors
yet still has faith in all his dreams
knowing there is richness enough
in profits from pastimes,
past periods of peace,
past friends,
past loves
and memories.
The third age crept up on him
but was welcomed like a new friend,
a true one,
honest and entirely straight,
its outstretched hand leading him gently to the end.
or rather to a passing-out, a returning to a light,
the home from whence he came.


Cait O’Connor






Sunday, 4 October 2009

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Anticipation

Dear Diary,





I think it would be a good idea.

Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization
1869 - 1948)
It would have been Gandhi's birthday today, I found it hard to pick a quote by him as there are so many absolute gems. There is to be a programme about his life on TV this weekend. That I must not miss.


I have a feast of books to read at the moment and as the hibernation season is not too far off I am looking forward to cosy days and nights of self-indulgence when I can curl up round the hearth or snuggle down under the duvet and simply lose myself. You can see what awaits me on my bedside table in the side panel of this blog. I am only too happy to escape the world sometimes, especially when I accidentally catch the TV news (I have in fact given up watching it).

I have just finished reading Home by the American writer Marilynne Robinson for our book group and I am very grateful to the group member who suggested it. If you haven’t read it, it is one of those titles that I would force upon you. I have been more than touched by it, it has left me with a chasm of sadness, a deeply felt sorrow for all the characters within its pages. Yet still I urge you to read it because it is brilliant and it will set you thinking.

When I began the book I thought Oh my God this is so slow - I don’t mind a slow pace, don’t get me wrong but this seemed painstakingly so. But I gradually got into it and adapted to its pace, I began to love it and in a strange way I felt myself become part of the home about which Marilynne was writing, it was quite a weird feeling - it seemed as if I too was a member of the family and was emotionally involved. It did make me weep and I know I am not the only one. This woman is a writer of very high calibre. Somewhere I read in a review that her prose has a musical quality, I understand what they mean; it is not exactly poetic prose or even lyrical but it has a steady rhythm and a beautiful melody within it. I am going to read her other titles Gilead and Housekeeping and will report back on those.

I have treated myself to the new book, the volume of poems which is Echoes of Memory by the dear, departed and very much missed John O’Donohue, I also bought a copy for my sister for her birthday, I hope she will love it. Here is a poem by him, not one from his new collection but one I hope you will appreciate.


John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry, [TRADITION SUB2] poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry

Original Language
English

c



When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The ride you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.


John O'Donohue
1954-2008

-- from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue

I have even more to look forward to. David Gray’s new CD Draw the Line is on its way to me in the post as is Mark Knopfler’s CD Get Lucky.










So life is good, I can read and listen to music in the background. I can also write along to music, do you ever do that? What do you listen to?

And what are you reading at the moment? Do tell.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Just pictures and a poem




Marcel Dyf - Village of Kerjouanao,France.




Dear Diary,

It seems too long since my last posting; life has been rather busy again. It is late at night so for now I am just going to post a poem I love and a couple of pics.



Winter Landscape - Breon O'Casey


The Breon O’ Casey pic is the sort of thing I would paint (if I could paint). I am hopeless at art and can’t even draw stick men but I have often been tempted to paint abstracts in blocks of colour. Finding this picture was strange because I have wanted to do something similar and I would have started with blues.

Blessings?

I have really enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees, it almost made me want to take up beekeeping., I am waiting for the DVD now but I am sure I will be disappointed. Books and films are never the same but then a book is a book and a film is a film and I guess we should not compare them. The style of writing of the Bees reminded me a little of Joanne Harris and of her book Chocolat, I don’t know why. I had to have a big mug of hot chocolate close by when I read that one - an essential accompaniment such was the book’s chocolatey-ness|! The film was very disappointing though.

We have hedgehogs nesting close by and a young one was outside the back door last night. I have been hearing that they are becoming rare and I must admit I hardly ever see them on the roads now so I was overjoyed to see our visitor.

The dry weather continues and we see the sun every day.
We light the woodburner in the evenings though and I almost look forward to winter and to dreams of cosy hibernation.

Sunday tomorrow, my favourite day of the week.

I promised you the poem,

Love after Love


The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.



Derek Walcott



That will do for now, my bed is calling,
Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.












Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Memories

Dear Diary,






Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.

~Jean de Boufflers


Some plants bring memories to me that take me back to old homes, previous lives, pastimes and childhood days. One that always does this for me is the much-loved perennial the Michaelmas Daisy. It speaks to me of autumn, the season I love so with all its scents, its colours and its promises. I love this daisy’s hue, it is synonymous with autumn and I always want to wear its colour for it is kind and forgiving, slightly mysterious and flatters an ageing complexion.

Pink phlox always remind me of our old home, a little cottage in Sussex where they grew under the front window. They were new to me then, I loved them so and I wish now I had brought some with me to Wales all those years ago. Thoughts of West Sussex take me back to the country lane I used to walk each day with my two children and my two dogs. I walked this lane every day from when they were babies (or puppies in the case of the dogs) and always remember the white flowers of ‘milkmaid and the primroses that lined the lane and in the wood at the end there were my beloved bluebells and wild blue scabious.

Primroses were new to me when, as a young woman, I first moved out from London, I had never seen them growing in the wild and they grew profusely around the Surrey village that my adoptive parents moved to. I had hated leaving London and all my friends but soon fell in love with the countryside and it is a passion that has not faded (and plenty do!). Lasting passions, aren’t they wonderful, what are yours I wonder?

As a child in South London I seem to remember that there were antirrhinums in our garden and I have a vague recollection of there being pansies and marigolds (their scent is gorgeous isn’t it?). I still love pansies and my middle granddaughter does too. They are hardy little things in spite of their prettiness and their appearance of delicacy; they spread themselves upwards and outwards and last for ages without much watering or care. The winter ones cheer me all through the cold days, I usually pick the purpley, dark bluey ones.

I asked M if there are any such memories from his past and he mentions the hollyhocks that grew wild and untended in his dear mother’s garden. These are one of my favourite flowers but I find it difficult to keep them going here in the Welsh hills. M’s memories of autumn are of chestnutting; picking them, boiling them and then eating them with sore fingers. All this is alien to me being a child of the Smoke. He remembers picking wild raspberries and says that the Bramley apples in his mother’s garden were ‘as big as someone’s head‘. He also mentioned snapdragons, I called them antirrhinums earlier but wish I had used the name snapdragons as for one it is easier to spell and two it is also a more magical name. I wrote a silly little rambling poem about flowers once where I mention one:



Musings from the Flower Garden



Crocus.
Cheering,
reviving old certainties;
unfolding spring.
Snowdrop.
Woodland’s white drops,
proclaiming joy,
sweetly nestling like jewels
in ice-petalled drifts,
they resurrect our passions.
Harebell.
coyly she peeps.
reflecting gossamer blue,
Daffodil.
Parades among her fields of gold.
Mimosa.
I can almost taste her almondness
and her vanilla
in its mottled and powdery fluffiness.
Around me bees are thronging;
buzzing and barging
for the sweet delight
that is the orange pollen.
Before they are fed and dusted,
sated and in retreat
will the Dragon Snap?

Cait O’Connor


*


A little mouse lives close by my bird feeding station, its hole is clearly visible and he obviously keeps himself and his family well fed on what the birds drop from their beaks. Last night my collie Kitty wouldn’t come in from her last-thing-at-night outing - I thought she was lost - but I found her laying by the mousehole, glued to it in fact and she was most reluctant to leave it. I’ve never had a mousing dog before so I found it highly amusing.

Blessings?

Another Good Book. It’s not a new title but a borrower recommended The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and I am really enjoying it. She said she was phoning all her friends and telling them that they must read it, I think she was right. It is also a film, I will wait until l I have read the book and then order the DVD through the library.

I also want to get hold of Alan Bennett’s new one - A Life like Other People’s. I so love this man’s writing.

Free Days - I am on leave from work this week - getting in practice for retirement perhaps? Sometimes I think it would be nice to be retired but I really love my job and for financial reasons will have to work until I drop anyway so it’s just as well.

Dry days - they are such a novelty and even if the sun doesn’t shine (like yesterday) they are a joy.

There is to be a fresh review of the sex offender’s law - probably after the outcry at the ridiculous measures suggested by the authorities. I blogged about this very recently.

Autumn, autumn, autumn, can’t you tell I just love it?

New beginnings - I can feel them stirring.


Bye for now,
Enjoy the day,
Cait