Alexander Averin

Friday 28 September 2007

All Things Moon

Dear Diary,

I have posted some more pics. by my favourite artist, Paul Henry, I hope you like them too. I have some more ready to post another time.

Friday is a free day.

Well not exactly, as the place is a tip and I am forced to have a purge with the hoover, the mop and later, when I’ve had little sit-down and rest with the computer and I’ve written a wee bit of a blog, I must get out the duster. I can’t ignore the levels of dust and the cobwebs in the cottage any longer. The washing machine is also flat out, even though there’s only the two of us now, there still seems to be a lot of washing to do sometimes.

I’m annoyed with myself too because this morning I’ve somehow lost a lens from my best glasses. I only need to wear them for close-up things, reading etc, so I am constantly taking them off and putting them down, when I haven’t got them balanced on the top of my head that is! It must be only recently that I lost it but I can’t find it anywhere. Such is life. Luckily I have several off-the-peg pairs that will have to do for now. It’s the expense of a replacement lens that worries/angers me.

Sorry, what I have written is, so far, so boring, who on earth would be interested in it? Just nice to get things off your chest sometimes isn’t it?

Talking of which…….

I had quite a day on Wednesday, my daughter and I went to Cardiff. We stopped in Merthyr Tydfil retail park on the way down for some retail therapy. I had to go for my routine hospital mammogram in Cardiff and we also wanted to go to Ikea. Sounds simple enough but we got lost in Cardiff centre and literally couldn’t get out of it, kept driving round and round, it was like a nightmare. They have several roads blocked off, building works everywhere and no road signs that make any sense. I absolutely love driving and have many years of experience, but getting to Ikea seems to be so difficult and getting through or out of Cardiff centre likewise. M said that he had seen it mentioned on the net that, at the moment, Cardiff was the most difficult city to get out of. I trust it’s only a temporary chaos. V and I came to the conclusion it was something to do with the Full Moon as we had one of those days when everything seemed to be blocking us. Still I managed to buy a lovely long grey Wallis cardigan and some new Dorothy Perkins skinny jeans and two rugs from Ikea. So not all bad.

The Full Moon does affect us, (think of the levels of unrest in the world, the crime and the admissions to hospital that peak at these times). I always have vivid dreams in the week leading up to it and feel out of sorts somehow.

I really love hares and I always think of the myth (?) that they sit gazing up at the moon. I have a stone one in my garden doing just that - V bought it for me for a birthday present once.

We did escape from Cardiff in the end and we drove home in the dark over the Epynt mountains and lo and behold, there was a young and obviously moonstruck, mountain hare blocking our way for quite a while. It wouldn’t move to the side of the narrow road and we had to hang back and follow it from a distance.

Just before we saw the hare, an owl had swooped silently beside the car and earlier on in our journey, lower down in the valley, a big long-tailed rat had crossed our path. On the way down to Cardiff, two Canada geese had flown really low, right in front of the car, so all in all it was quite an interesting journey, (full perhaps of some mysterious symbolic significances?) the rural part that is. I wouldn’t like to tell you how long we were trapped in Cardiff but it was like being in one of those really anxious dreams that you can’t escape from! Was I pleased to get back to my little riverside haven; I felt like the country mouse again.

I have been meditating on All Things Moon. Apparently it is a powerful time to gather herbs and mushrooms, their healing properties are at their strongest. Wounds bleed more heavily, our emotions are heightened and apparently, more women go into labour at this time.

Here are some moon quotes.

I love this one and it is quite pertinent at this time of trouble in Burma:

Three things cannot long be hidden:
the sun
the moon
the truth
Buddha, 563-483 BC

And this one links to my previous blog about the sound of silence:

See how nature - trees, flowers - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence - we need silence to be able to touch souls.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta 1910-1997

And my favourite:

I don’t know if there are men on the moon, but if there are they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum.
George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950

I’ll leave you with a little moon poem.


Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy coat the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

- Walter de la Mare

Bye for now,

Monday 24 September 2007

Peace One Day Part Two/Edna O'Brien

Dear Diary,

It’s a BOGOF blog day today, two (little ones) for the price of one.

"The only thing for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke (attributed) 1729-1797

I’m still pondering on the theme of peace and I found, too late I suppose, something I wrote a long long time ago, I hope I can now submit it as Part Two for Peaceoneday.

One day I was thinking about the Earth and imagined looking down on it from way above in Outer Space. I realised I would not see countries as such, nor any borders dividing them. I would just see one planet, one Earth.

There is only One Earth
May Love Prevail
May Peace begin with Me

I was pondering you see,

On why people are willing to become martyrs?
On why are so many of the world starving?
On why our world seems to be dominated by white males of the Western hemisphere.

The history books should help with some of the answers but why do we never learn from our mistakes?

On racism:

I would liken racism to be like a plant, the seed of which is fear, which is sown, fed, watered and then transplanted by organisations of all types, by religious differences, by governments and by the media.

Would that we could use the same, obviously successful, mechanism for growth but instead plant the desire for harmony between peoples and weed out the racism which exists within our neighbourhoods and many countries of the world.

For love is the opposite of fear and is the antidote to all hatred.

Fear’s bedfellow is ignorance.

Knowledge is power.

On war:

War and terrorism wear different cloaks but they produce the same outcome

We have to learn how to cope with the evil in our midst, firstly in our own hearts, minds and voices. Pray and meditate for peace, talk it up, spread the words. The ripple effect will do the rest.

Perhaps we should look past the scaremongering, hidden agendas and propaganda and try to seek ways to replace unrest with harmony, replace power of the few with power of the people and replace violence of all kinds with a powerful and energetic quest for peace.

Violence only ever breeds violence for like is always drawn to like.

There is only One Earth.
May love prevail and
let the peace begin with me.

And now for something completely different.

Three quotes by a favourite author:

When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious."

Writing is like carrying a foetus.

The vote means nothing to women. We should be armed.

Edna O’Brien 1932-

I had a real treat today while listening to Woman’s Hour over a late breakfast. Edna O’Brien was featured and she is one of my very very favourite writers. They are publishing The Country Girls again, the book that was banned in Ireland all those years ago, the first book that Edna wrote when she arrived in London in 1952 (it took three weeks to write). Her writing has been described as lyrical yet lacerating and she says that Ireland is her inspiration whether she is in it or out of it. She finds she can only live and write in London because she needs solitude. I sort of understand what she means.

I always enjoy listening to her speak and totally agreed with her when she talked about the best thing anyone can do in their life is to read the very best books. She thinks it is far better than any university education because university degree teaching ‘takes the sap out of what’s there‘. I so agree with that viewpoint on the study of literature as I always hated the way poems and books were ‘dissected’ and ‘discussed to death‘. It reminds me of U A Fanthorpe’s poem ‘Dear Mr Lee’ which I love so much. I have posted it on here before, but hey ho, it’s worth it!

Dear Mr Lee

Dear Mr Lee (Mr Smart says
it's rude to call you Laurie, but that's
how I think of you, having lived with you
really all year), Dear Mr Lee
(Laurie) I just want you to know
I used to hate English, and Mr Smart
is roughly my least favourite person,
and as for Shakespeare (we're doing him too)
I think he's a national disaster, with all those jokes
that Mr Smart has to explain why they're jokes,
and even then no one thinks they're funny,
And T. Hughes and P. Larkin and that lot
in our anthology, not exactly a laugh a minute,
pretty gloomy really, so that's why
I wanted to say Dear Laurie (sorry) your book's
the one that made up for the others, if you
could see my copy you'd know it's lived
with me, stained with Coke and Kitkat
and when I had a cold, and I often
take you to bed with me to cheer me up
so Dear Laurie, I want to say sorry,
I didn't want to write a character-sketch
of your mother under headings, it seemed
wrong somehow when you'd made her so lovely,
and I didn't much like those questions
about social welfare in the rural community
and the seasons as perceived by an adolescent,
I didn't think you'd want your book
read that way, but bits of it I know by heart,
and I wish I had your uncles and your half-sisters
and lived in Slad, though Mr Smart says your view
of the class struggle is naïve, and the examiners
won't be impressed by me knowing so much by heart,
they'll be looking for terse and cogent answers
to their questions, but I'm not much good at terse and cogent,
I'd just like to be like you, not mind about being poor,
see everything bright and strange, the way you do,
and I've got the next one out of the Public Library,
about Spain, and I asked Mum about learning
to play the fiddle, but Mr Smart says Spain isn't
like that any more, it's all Timeshare villas
and Torremolinos, and how old were you
when you became a poet? (Mr Smart says for anyone
with my punctuation to consider poetry as a career
is enough to make the angels weep).

PS Dear Laurie, please don't feel guilty for
me failing the exam, it wasn't your fault,
it was mine, and Shakespeare's
and maybe Mr Smart's, I still love Cider
it hasn't made any difference.

U A Fanthorpe

The two pics above are by an American artist, Ron Bayens; a fellow blogger has introduced me to his work.

The lily photo was sent to me by a friend.

Bye for now,

Friday 21 September 2007

Peace One Day

Dear Diary,

It is Friday the 21st September and it is Peace One Day day today. It only happens once a year and I had never heard of it until a kind soul sent the details to me in a forwarded emaiI. I went to the website and made a pledge as did many, many others. This was mine.

I will fill my blog entry with all things pertaining to peace and I shall pray for

Peace One Day.

I am keeping my promise and I am going to try to blog about peace. I have been thinking about the subject for the last few days. Not that I don’t think of it at other times of course, I am a child of the Sixties after all. Now, as I sit down to write, I am trying to think of peace but all I can think of is war. Wars past and present. The Iraq war is always in my thoughts, I campaigned hard against it.

Hatred is like a seed, feed it and it grows, we should plant the peace-seed and feed, water and nurture it daily not just once a year. Perhaps we could have ceasefires every week, every month, not just every year. Then one day altogether. It may happen one day, if we can survive as a race that is.

Peace One Day.

It worries me that our National Curriculum contains a lot of compulsory teaching about (some, selected) past WARS and past British victories but nothing about PEACE. In the past, and still today, many countries are invaded in the name of exploitation, don’t let us lie to our children about what war is all about. Politicians always end up round a table talking to their ‘enemy’ and past wars are soon forgotten. But many, many innocent lives have been sacrificed along the way to that table and wouldn’t you know, none of the dead are politicians. Wouldn’t it be better to talk first? Jaw Jaw not War War was a saying that made sense.

Peace-making and peace-keeping is the goal we should be aiming for in all walks of life and academic effort into that subject would be a good place to start.

In the meantime I will post you a few of my own poems, all were written some years ago now, but sadly are still as topical in their subject matter.

Dead children’s shoes

As they run and try to flee, Grandmother says
Don’t cry.
Don’t complain
That your sandals are hurting you
Remember the child who has no shoes

The American rocket hits
and the dead child, aged only four,
another victim of war,
She cries no more.

The world looks on through a TV screen
At a pair of tattered sandals ,
An old woman’s burnt body
Both quiet as death
Their innocence still woven in the silence
It paints for us a still-life
A piece of unsavoury art
Dead children’s shoes
Their family look to camera
Their begging in vain.

Cait O’Connor


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

Cait O’Connor

Impending War
Written on 17th February 2003

We know how madmen lie.
And Bush has a pact with the Devil
To make war in a fight for control
With oil as the prize and the bounty.

Nothing rhymes.
And even their lies don’t add up.
Only the stench of war
And blood is in the air.

And all the while we are being misled by the misguided,
Carried along in a torrent with the blind,
The deaf and the downright war-crazy
And with those whose heads are buried
deep within the sand.

This is where my nightmare starts,
Dreams of burnt bodies and dead babies,
Body-bags, cremated soldiers,
Children running, fleeing from the war
With its explosions of legalised terrorism.
Death is all around and I am sore afraid
for prophecies are coming true.

We are preached to by the ignorant,
Lied to by the men in black
And disregarded by those who have no control.
Can all we do is hope
That the escalation will not destroy us
And Armageddon come upon us
If this evil prevails?

Pity the pawns, not only victims but fools.
Pity the victims for there can be no return.
The rubicon has been crossed.
Death and suffering before us,
Brought about by the hands of the bullies
Who are the hunters of a prey so easily taken.

My dream is like a daze of dread
Where I am compromised by sadness for this world
And meanwhile just my powerlessness prevails
And I am like the child again who wakes at night in fear.

Cait O’Connor 2003

To Ali,

and for all innocent children who are murdered or injured in war.

Not in my name Ali,

Are you armless.
With your pregnant mother dead.
Father, brothers, sisters and six cousins dead
All vapourised.

Not in my name Ali,

Are you alone with injuries so bad,
According to your doctor,
You would be better off dead.

You alone are just one.

A symbol of why we fight for peace.
Of why we wanted to stop the illegal, immoral invasion
And why a white ribbon still hangs on my door.

Someone tell me?

Would Bush and Blair give up their arms?
Would they give up their arms?
Would they give up their ARMS?

They have your blood on their hands.

Not in my name Ali,
Were arms sold to Iraq.
Not in my name
Were arms used by Bush and Blair.

Your arms were blown off
And your family blown away

Not in my name.

Cait O’Connor 2003

Ali is now a young man and he shames us all as he has decided to devote his life to campaign for peace in the world.

God bless him.

I am sorry I have broken my pledge and not written purely about peace; there is far too much in this blog about war but I promise that I too am praying for

Peace One Day.

Bye for now,

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Delightful Smells

Dear Diary,

I slept through the night last night! I had to laugh to myself when it occurred to me that I felt the same kind of relief that I had done when my babies were small and had just reached the stage when they slept right through.

And so on to smells, Part Two of my homework.

I always tell my children and grandchildren I am a witch as, being very sensitive, I have been blessed with an acute sense of smell. Smells evoke all sorts of reactions don’t they? Memory being a strong one; for a smell can take you back in time, the effect on the brain is really amazing. A fellow blogger reminded me of the smell of gaslights on caravan holidays when she was a child. I knew just what she meant as I had had the same experience. A Sunday joint roasting in the oven can sometimes evoke childhood memories of Sunday mornings and connect me with Two Way Family Favourites on the radio (showing my age now!).

Environments and their scents affect me very deeply. I can be quite perturbed by bad ones.

But for my favourites I shall start with a few smells from Nature.

Herbs are real miracle workers aren’t they, in more ways than one?

My favourite herby smells are:

Rosemary....... has a wonderful head-clearing scent and for me it carries memories of sunny Mediterranean hillsides.

Mint.........especially the one that grows in our garden. It is so vigorous it took over my herb bed and I had to dig it all out by hand recently and move it. Originally it was a piece given to us by Jesse, a dear and elderly neighbour in Sussex, God rest him. It’s a much-travelled, as well as a much-loved plant, already on its third home here in Wales and we brought it down here seventeen years ago. I have given roots from it to lots of people too. The granddaughters actually eat the leaves and its smell is out of this world.

Flowers now. I will be good and only restrict it to two (or three).

First will have to be lily-of-the-valley, my muguets du bois. Just heavenly but a shame they are only around for a short while. Beautiful and delicate to look at. Aaaah…..

A close second are my dear roses. I have started to collect the ‘old roses’, the David Austen ones have proved their worth and have brought me so much joy both for their scent and for their beauty.

I am sneaking in honeysuckle here, it is a nightly delight in summer.

To be seasonal I will pick some ‘autumnal’ smells

Autumn leaves.
The smell after a rain shower.
The smell of wood smoke.

Let me not forget the wonderful scent you get when you walk amongst pine trees. It’s meant to be good for anyone with respiratory problems.

Indoors now. I am into aromatherapy and I cannot live without my essential oils, my scented candles and my incense, not all at once though!

On the negative side though I am allergic to chemical air fresheners, especially those car ones that some people use, they make me feel really ill and a lot of perfumes upset me and give me terrible headaches. However, I used to be addicted to YSL’s Opium, but can’t wear any perfumes at all on my skin any longer.

Blessings today are all our senses, no need to list them. Let’s just all be as sensuous as we can as we go through each day. Be on the alert as it were, sensually.

A poem on this theme?

Co-incidentally I have just started a new book of poetry by Margaret Atwood, it’s called The Door. I have to admit I have never read her poems before but I am just loving this book. It’s a real page-turner, almost unputdownable and you can’t often say that about a volume of poems!
I will share the first one in the book with you which is about another one of my favourite smells, one that I try to resist though as it is very bad for you.


Shivering in the almost-drizzle
Inside the wooden outboard
Nose over gunwale,
I watched it drip and spread
On the sheenless water:

The brightest thing in wartime
A slick of rainbow,
Ephemeral as insect wings,
Green, blue, red, and pink,
My shimmering private sideshow.

Was this my best toy, then?
This toxic smudge, this overspill
From a sloppy gascan filled
With essence of danger?

I knew that it was poison,
Its beauty an illusion:
I could spell flammable.

But still. I loved the smell:
So alien, a whiff
Of starstuff.

I would have liked to drink it,
Inhale its irridescence.
As if I could.
That’s how gods lived: as if.

Margaret Atwood

I must stop now though I could go on and on dredging up memories and luscious scents but I will just sneak in one more and that is clean, fresh bedclothes, a weekly joy that I always think would be a luxurious treat to have every night of the year, were I to win the lottery. It might even give me such a good sleep that I would go right through the night……….. every night…….

Which reminds me, I forgot to mention.......... I adore the smell of new babies…………………….

Bye for now,
Sweet dreams,


PS The bedroom is not mine, similar shape though.

Sunday 16 September 2007

Sounds and Imaginings

The curlew

Dear Diary,

It’s mid- September already but recently it has felt like summer or something very like it. I seem to have been waiting for days like these for weeks. At last I can do some sitting outside in the sunshine.

When I am seeking peace I’ve taken to just sitting in my garden and closing my eyes, just listening. The fancy word for what I do would be meditation. So many things we do could be classed as meditation: walking, ironing, washing-up, playing a musical instrument, playing sport, all these activities are those where we can lose both ourselves and all sense of time, a desirable achievement sometimes in this day and age.

But I digress, I have been set a task by a Purplecooer. Homework we call it. I’m meant to be writing about five of those sounds and also those scents that lift me out of myself, so here goes.

With closed eyes you can really hear, you understand how the totally blind can use their ears far more acutely than we sighted people. It would be a good experiment to spend 24 hours wearing a blindfold so we could really, really listen to the world around us wouldn’t it?

I’m going to start my list with birdsong. Probably not very original but with respect to this subject I don’t think original comes into it much. I feel we shall all probably choose similar examples.

I notice that every morning when I take out the food out for the birds they strike up a song, more than a song it seems more of a ‘call to eat‘, they seem to be saying ’Here she comes, she’s bringing our brekky!’.

But earlier than that when I first awaken, that is the time when our feathered friends do seem to be united in their dawn chorus which is always a treat, one of life’s blessings that I couldn’t imagine living without. Then they do seem to be singing just for the joy of it. But when I sit, just to listen, although I can pick out different birds, sadly I can’t recognise and name each one individually. It is one of those things I’d like to learn more about.

Some scientists have been trying to prove that birds don’t sing just for the joy of it. My own observations however are to the contrary, for when I play my music and the sounds drift out of the open doors or windows, the birds start to sing along, quite furiously sometimes depending on the tune! I can almost feel their enjoyment of my music.

(As I write this the buzzard family are mewing overhead as they circle round the field together looking for prey).

Sadly we do not have any curlews in this valley, we had them when we had the smallholding a few miles from here. Their cry is heartrendingly sad I always think but I do miss them and the species is becoming rare which is such a shame.

Talking of sadness and of birdsong, M visited the German concentration camp, Belsen , shortly after the end of the war. In that place are 87,000 people buried in mass graves and he described it as eerily silent, completely devoid of birds and their song. And it still is.

Enough of birds (though I will never get enough of these creatures, our angelic messengers).

More sounds that move my spirit?

Let’s start with the first, the cry of the newborn. I love all babies but new babies are so very special, still touched with the essence of Spirit.

From babies’ cries I move on to the human voice or to be exact, some human voices. Musical voices. I can’t pick out or mention them all as there are so many that I love, so many shades, so many levels of sound, some akin to chocolate, some to white wine, some so indescribably powerful that they can move a soul to tears. Think of Pavarotti for example, God rest him. Some men’s speaking voices too I love, why is that I wonder? Why do (some) men’s voices have such an effect on (some) women? I loved Richard Burton’s voice, I love Anthony Hopkin’s as well. I love accents, the Irish one of course and also the French, that one is so ‘romantic‘. Feargal Keane has a voice I could listen to all day.

Of course (it goes without saying really) I love musical instruments and my favourites are the Irish Aeolian pipes, the guitar and the wooden flute. Those Irish pipes particularly have an ability to touch my soul somewhere deep inside.

I move on now to Water and I’ll start with the sound of the sea. The roar of the waves as they roll in to the shore, over and over, over and over and then become quieter and softer, more and more gentle as they reach their innermost shoreline. It is mesmerising both to watch and to listen to this. I would so love to live by the sea, I think it must be healing to walk by the coastline each and every day, if only to make oneself feel small and inconsequential in the scheme of the Universe. Perhaps it would help to minimise those everyday little worries that loom so large.

It is not quite the same scale but I am blessed to live by a little mountain river and to know its every sound, from its mere trickle over the stones to its powerful and frightening roar when in flood. We bought the cottage partly because of the river and the location. To sit by the water and to listen to its song is soothing; hypnotic even; after all it is said that the negative ions near such places can cure headaches, allergy symptoms and the like. Many’s the time I have taken a garden chair and sat on the river stones, right at the water’s edge. It is truly healing, I can vouch for that.

Carrying on the watery theme I would have to mention my dear love that is rain. Perhaps it is my Irish blood but I love everything about it. I love soft drizzly rain that caresses my face and feeds my complexion and I adore torrential rain that beats against the windows and makes heavy drumming noises on my roof. I love to feel snug and safe indoors when such stormy weather comes and I remember being on holiday as a child in a caravan in Kent and hearing the rain pattering on the roof.

I love all elemental sounds. The power of the wind can be inspiring to hear though I must admit to being more fearful of strong winds since I experienced the hurricane in 1987 when we lived in West Sussex. That was scary indeed.

And fire? Nothing beats a real fire in a home does it? Only in a hearth of course! A coal or a log fire that starts off spitting and crackling, then settles down to a quiet and steady burn. Then I cease to listen and start staring into the flames, losing myself as I read the stories that they seem to try to tell. It’s that meditation thing again.

(I have just noticed that I have chosen ‘my’ two elements. I am a Fire Sign (Aries) and my Moon, my ‘emotional’ planet, is in Scorpio which is a Water Sign. There is definitely something in this astrology lark.

Getting away from the elements, I love ticking clocks. We have an antique clock in the ‘snug’ that ticks and chimes. I just love it. It soothes and makes me feel safe and secure. Is it a back-to-the-womb thing or is that just a crazy idea? When S, my middle granddaughter was a baby she used to rock in time to this clock, even then she had an ear for music but then we are all musical in our family. When my son S was in the womb he used to kick like mad when rock music was being played. I knew early on that he was a boy by the strength of his kicks (compared to my daughter who also reacted to music) and I predicted he would be into music. Right on both counts. Funny isn’t it that sounds affect us even before we draw our first breath, before we deliver our first cry and emit our own sounds that will touch the heart of our mother and will (hopefully) guarantee our own survival. Sound is so important eh? At that point I will have to leave you…………………

But before I go, instead of a poem I will add the lyrics of one of my favourite songs by Paul Simon (and Art Garfunkel) that is one of my Desert Island Discs. Of course it is a poem, Paul Simon is a poetical genius.

The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of
A neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said if you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, the words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whispered in the sounds of silence.

Paul Simon

For even more than sound I am particularly drawn to no-sound, the sound that we call silence. This experience I believe to be the most healing of them all and is a subject all its own.

My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.
Edith Sitwell (1887-1964)

Silence is more musical than any song.
Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894)

Bye for now,

Fare thee well,


My next blog, coming soon, will be Part 2 of my Homework and will be all about evocative scents.

Thursday 6 September 2007

The Three Tenors. A Tribute to Pavarotti.

Rantings and Stating the Obvious

Dear Diary,

For nearly a hundred years, we have known that the material world is an illusion. Everything that seems solid - a rock, a tree, your body - is actually 99.999% empty space.

Deepak Chopra

The pics are going to be the start of several images I will be posting by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. UPL reminded me of his work; my brother introduced me to his art originally and I would like to decorate the blog with a few selections of his genius.

Listeners to Terry Wogan’s radio programme will be familiar with the phrase ‘Is it me?’ I wake daily at 7am to the sound of Radio 4’s Today programme and as I’ve mentioned before it is often guaranteed to wake me up with a start and raise my blood pressure. Today was such a day. As each new news item came on, a strong urge to leap out of bed and bang my head against the bedroom wall came upon me. Why?

A research scientist, a psychologist no less (!) has published a (Food Standards Agency) paper in The Lancet that seems to suggest that food additives make children hyperactive and may cause impulsiveness and behavioural problems. Parents are being advised to check labels on food! What about the manufacturers of such poisons? It is always down to the consumer to recycle/check labels/pick up the pieces etc etc. Nothing is mentioned about the secret and hidden addictive properties of certain additives, those artificial sweeteners for example, a crime if ever there was one. Look it up on the Internet.
M and I have always thought that the current madness we see in society these days is caused partly by the chemical-ridden diet that our children and young people (and adults) consume.

I am not the only mother/grandmother/parent on the planet who could have told the world that additives affect our children and in one f****** sentence. I am thinking of writing a Purplecooers’ booklet of such ‘Common Sense Sentences‘ - do send me your suggestions. That would save a load of taxpayer’s money. By the way who funds the Food Standards Agency? Is it yet another quango that doesn’t seem to be earning its money?

The next item also got me going.

The police think that if they give witnesses of gun crime anonymity in court then more people will come forward.

No, really?

And just to finish the ranting I want to mention the visiting motorcyclists from ’Off’ who use our roads every weekend as if they were race-tracks. . Huge garish signs warning of bends have been erected along our ’B’ road and they so detract from the outstanding beauty of this area. But worse than that a new sign has appeared on our road, obviously addressed to we local car-drivers which states


I have checked up and apparently it is to warn we car drivers to think of bikers (!) and to motorcyclists to drive defensively to protect them from we car drivers (!).

I am not joking when I say that they drive their motorbikes as if they are on a race track. I am not scared easily but they scare me (and my daughter) with their aggressive mode of riding. They travel in hordes and the noise alone is scary, they overtake dangerously on the wrong side of the road, terrifying all of us, whichever way we are travelling. I always put the lights on when I am amongst them and shake my fist at ’em, but to no avail of course as they are gon by in a flash. We have had several fatalities on our little road alone and many, many in Powys and Wales as a whole. For several years we had an accident every weekend on a little bend just up the road from us. My much-loved and personally appreciated Air Ambulance service is used every weekend at the height of the season (and that wonderful service is totally funded by we locals by the way).

M and I always joke and I try and be cheerful about it and say ‘Peaceful innit?’ as these bikers roar by, shattering our rural peace.

I am not denigrating all bikers, (M is actually a keen lover of the machines and an ex-biker). I have to say too that some of the older bikers in the locality drive similarly older and quieter bikes and they drive very sedately and safely.


Better do some blessings methinks.

Pleasant Surprises. Quite by chance last night I found a comment on an old blog from Lloyd Jones, the author of Mr Cassini. I had missed it before and unfortunately I was unable to reply to it.

Trains. M and I are off on a train ride today. I will blog about it tomorrow.

Autumn and late summer sun.

Autumn asks that we prepare for the future, that we be wise in the ways of gathering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go - to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness.

B W Overstreet (1947).

In my previous blog I wrote about the melancholic effect of the changing Seasons. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I dislike Autumn; in fact it is my second favourite season. Spring is the first, you probably guessed that. I love the smell of Autumn, it almost has its own taste as well doesn’t it? The glory of Her colours of course and the promise She brings of Winter and all Her delights to come. Days like yesterday lift the spirits, warm and sunny with still-warm and clear, starry nights. I am beginning to write in cliches but it’s hard sometimes to avoid that. It is just the change in the seasons that always affects me, it’s a loss thing.

However I always cherish new plans and look forward to those indoor schemes and projects that can be started in September. Blank notebooks, new pens, inner stories bursting to come out, words unwritten, themes for stories and novels simmering inside waiting to be preserved for posterity. Dreams to be released. It’s a bit like a New Term for we oldies. I also put the garden to bed at the end of autumn and relish the fact that there is no more weeding to be done for a long while.

Finally Gratitude. What for? For being born when I was and being the age that I am. The more I see and hear of these modern times the more I despair. Incompetency all around, mismanagement on all fronts, poor education standards, Big Brother and not to mention the constant research findings being released with their Stating of the Obvious.

Is it really just me?

I'd better stop moaning, How about a poem?

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

Bye for now, I have a train to catch….

Fare thee well,


Monday 3 September 2007

Melancholia,, Creativity and Constancy

My pics are by Paul Henry who is my favourite Irish artist, possibly my favourite artist of all. His landscapes are of the west of Ireland, my spiritual home. I have posted some of his before so forgive me if there are one or two you may have already seen.

Dear Diary,

And you would accept the seasons of your heart just as you have always accepted that seasons pass over your fields and you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.”

Kahlil Gibran

Yes I want to write about the changing of the seasons. It is, for me, that melancholic time again when tiredness strikes, foundless fears arise and needless worries come to the surface like bad energies needing to be cleared. Perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen a sad poem for you today, one that I stumbled across in the wee small hours of this morning. I’ve been getting attacks of insomnia just lately, waking in the middle of the night or in the early hours.

And here is the poem, chosen for its mood, not the content you understand.

Next Day

Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketted, identical
Food-gathering flocks
Are selves I overlook. Wisdom, said William James,
Is learning what to overlook. And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I’ve become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.
When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I’d wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children. Now that I’m old, my wish
Is womanish:
That the boy putting groceries in my car
See me. It bewilders me he doesn’t see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered. How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile
Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life. Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home. Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind
Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water–
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don’t know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,
My husband away at work–I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them. As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:
I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate. Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: “You’re old.” That’s all, I’m old.
And yet I’m afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend’s cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her I hear her telling me
How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I’m anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.

Randall Jarrell

On a lighter note now, I’ve received a Creative Blogger Award from Laurie, a journalist blogger in America.

The price of such a treasured gift is for me to pass the same award on to five other bloggers who I think are worthy of such a prize. I’ve thought long and hard about this and it has been very difficult to whittle it down to only five so forgive me if you are reading this and think you should be included, you probably should but I am only allowed five.

I am told it is not an award for the quality of the writing alone, rather for the ‘creative elements’ presented that contribute to the final product.

And they are: in alphabetical order:
This site is beautiful and full of creative treats, not least her own wonderful poems and the selection of great pictures.
This site is a spiritual artist’s treat for you of photographs and more and one that is all-embracing of the nature of Wales. A must for tree-lovers.
Another site that lovers of art will enjoy. She presents atmospheric photos and also her own works of art and gives such a flavour of life in New York that you could almost be there with her. An absolute must-read.
This site is also a feast for the eyes with photos and words so tasty that you could almost ‘eat’ them and they are arranged so beautifully. (Country Living eat your heart out).

Last but not least:
Un Peu Loufoque…true creative originality here and a blog that is guaranteed to make you laugh as well. A must-read if ever there was one and well worthy of publication if you ask me. To crown it all there are paintings to enjoy every day. What more can one want?

As I said, I could have included others that I love and there are also those whose writing is superb but whose blogs would be eligible for other awards rather than the ‘creative‘ one.

Blessings before I go?

Sometimes I feel I can only count on the constants in our lives but are there such things? I think there are. Yes I know that all things shall pass - this is sometimes a reassuring thing but can also be a sad one too, the passing of seasons, people, etc. all things are transitory. Perhaps you can come up with some ‘constants’ in your life?

The best I can come up with today are these……

The innocence of children, yes they grow out of it but it is wondrous at the time.

The faithfulness of our pets. In that respect perhaps only dog/cat/other animal lovers like myself may understand.

Words and music. Speaking of which, if you need comfort do listen to Sara Maclachlan's videos below (pause my audio tape first or you will get both playing at once).

Sunshine. Far from constant I know but the Sun is till up there, I know I’ve seen Her shining today! But perhaps the lack of enough of it has affected all of us this year?

Mother Nature. She may change her clothes but she supports us (so far) and is far more beauteous than anything a mere mortal can create.

Farewell for now,

I hate goodbyes,