Alexander Averin

Friday 28 December 2007

Three things enjoyed today.

Musical tracks I have enjoyed today. ( more below on separate entries).

First is Rod Stewart singing The First Cut is the Deepest.

Below are:

Three quotes from a favourite poet of mine, (yes I am sure you know it is Yeats).

Three gorgeous pictures by the artist, Trudi Finch.

A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, our stitching and unstinting has been naught."

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

"A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love."

Crucify, Tori Amos

Mad World, Gary Jules

Something Else by Gary Jules

Something Else Lyrics

Sunday 16 December 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

Dear Diary,

It is 16th December 2007. However, there are only thirty minutes left of this day and one thing is for sure, it will never come again. It is the day that bloggers all over the world have been asked to perform (and record) a random act of kindness.

I have had a quiet and very restful Sunday. I’ve hardly performed any acts at all apart from venturing out a few times with tasty morsels for my garden birds and to exercise the dogs. I haven’t been anywhere, well only a quick flight down to the local garage to get a Sunday paper. I didn’t get much of a chance to be kind there, apart from exchanging a few kind-I-hope words with a neighbour. The outdoor temperature has been only a degree above freezing, with a biting wind, so, like most people around here I would imagine, I’ve stayed indoors and spent time curled up on the sofa by the woodburner. A really lazy Sunday.

I have sent healing thoughts to someone in need. Three people n need in fact. I hope that each will qualify as an act of kindness? And I have asked others to do the same in one instance, hoping perhaps that it will increase the power with a wonderful ripple effect, the much needed pattern that will hopefully change this world for the better. After all this is the purpose of the appointed day of kindness.

I was also meditating on kindness and working out why only some people are drawn to be so. I remember a hymn I sang as a child in junior school. I loved hymns, little did I know it was mainly the words that attracted me so and unbeknown to me at the time, a love affair with poetry was in its infancy.

One hymn I really loved singing was this one below, written of course by William Blake. I love his poetry now but as a child it was just a hymn I had to sing at school. His words struck a chord in my sensitive soul and the first verse especially stayed with me throughout my life.

On Another's Sorrow
A Song of Innocence

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear --

And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give his joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not year.

Oh He gives to us his joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

William Blake

Another poem by Blake that I love is this one:

The Divine Image

A Song of Innocence

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of of delight
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,
Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

Learned readers will notice that I have taken a line out of the last verse which nowadays would be construed as extremely racist! (Not that Blake was being racist, rather the opposite).

I’ll sign off now but before I do I would like to mention the power of thought. If we can’t actually do anything to help another because the opportunity is not always there, we can always think kind, positive thoughts. They carry energy and have tremendous power.

And always remember to be kind to yourself as well.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 14 December 2007

Peace for Life not just for Christmas

Some people may have not noticed the words that follow. They are not mine. They are the words of Blossom.

I reproduce them, with the author’s permission, along with a very fine poem by the dear late John Denver as they were a comment on my previous blog.

Your reference to the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan made me think of the Guard of Honour at my niece’s recent wedding. They were all wearing their medals with pride and I asked one young solider what it had been like. He replied:

" I held my best friend in my arms when he died"

There is no answer to that.

I was a great admirer of John Denver and saw him play several times but the moment that stands out in my mind most was when in almost complete darkness, baring a small and pale light, he recited this poem:

Peace Poem

There's a name for war and killing
there's a name for giving in
when you know another answer
for me the name is sin
but there's still time to turn around
and make all hatred cease

and give another name to living

and we could call it peace

And peace would be the road we walk
each step along the way
and peace would be the way we work
and peace the way we play

And in all we see that's different
and in all the things we know

peace would be the way we look
and peace the way we grow

There's a name for separation
there's a name for first and last
when it's all for us or nothing
for me the name is past

but there's still time to turn around
and make all hatred cease
and give a name to all the future
and we could call it peace

And if peace is what we pray for
and peace is what we give
then peace will be the way we are
and peace the way we live

Yes there still is the time to turn around
and make all hatred cease
and give another name to living
and we can call it peace

John Denver

The soldier’s words at the wedding brought tears to my eyes. They speak volumes and will stay with me forever.

I am called to put his words into a poem. For every soldier in the world, especially in an illegal and immoral invasion, is someone’s best friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son.

You could add women to the equation but to my mind women and warfare should never be in harmony. Women bring life into the world, call me sexist or old fashioned if you like but I believe our role should always be that of the peacemaker, our pathway one of nurture and protection.

Below is a video of John Denver reciting the Peace Poem.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Thursday 13 December 2007

Pictures, Reflections, Resonance and Imagination

This picture I sent to a fellow blogger today; it is her birthday and her name is Crystal, I felt it suited her 'mystical' personality. I love it too.

Are you like me? I find it hard to give people a present unless I love it myself? And then sometimes I buy something for someone else and want to keep it!

This one was sent to another very special cyber friend who also has a birthday today. I wanted her to feel the pleasure in this picture, the warmth, the peace and the relaxation that I get from it. Everyone has loved these two paintings so I have posted them here.

This is me (in my imagination!) wearing my long red skirt and doing what I would have liked to have been doing on this freezing December day. It is an Irish coastline of course and it is midsummer, in West Cork maybe?

I sent this picture to my daughter this morning. Something about it reminded me of her and my youngest granddaughter E, aged six. V doesn't look like the mother in the pic but she holds her head to one side in that manner. I went to see the two youngest girls in their Christmas school play last night, they did Dickens' wonderful story, A Christmas Carol. S was Christmas Present and E was a dancing child. S, aged nine, sang a beautiful solo, I was very proud, (grannies are allowed to brag!).

The artist for these last three is Vladimir Volegov.

I have been watching on TV news those poor soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and thinking that they will never get over their experiences. I have also been thinking of those who were sacrificed and will never come home and feeling so sorry for their poor loved ones.

I found these two quotes recently.

War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.

Charles E Hughes

The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. Peace, no less than war, requires idealism and self-sacrifice and a righteous and dynamic faith.

John Foster Dulles

My daughter sent me this Siegfried Sassoon quotation this morning. She found it while researching for an essay she is writing. Read it and see if it rings any bells with you, it certainly did with me.

"I AM making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.,

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."

Siegfried L. Sassoon...July 1917

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Dear Cait, Aged 13, The Adopted Child

Dear Cait, I hope you will heed my advice and trust me because only I understand how lost, isolated and ‘different’ you feel. I do understand the reasons behind your shyness, your reserve. When you came into this world you chose a difficult path, but keep in mind that suffering will bring you inner strength and spiritual growth. Hang in there, things will get better once you discover who you are. NEVER GIVE UP searching, but I don’t need to say those three words to you do I? Nothing in life matters. Only love. Always remember this. The Beatles will be saying it soon in a song, I know you are a great fan of theirs. Don’t get hung up on any ‘small stuff’. Only kindness matters, (that too will be a song title one day!). Treat others as you would like to be treated. Believe in yourself, You are beautiful and clever, even if no-one has ever told you so. Don’t worry about doing well in every subject at school, if you hate science, maths, geography, history, hockey, so what? (At least history will become fascinating when you are my age). You have been lucky enough to pass the eleven-plus and go to a good school. Enjoy the many things you will learn there.. You will also leave being able to write proper English (having learned to read, spell and recite your tables prior to getting there). These basic skills are sadly lacking nowadays. Devote your life to your passions. ‘Follow your bliss’ as they say. You are becoming a teenager at a very exciting time. Everything is changing, exploding even; the class system, music, art, fashion, politics, sexual liberation……there may not be a time of such positivity again in this country, so make the most of it. I know you love music and that it has saved you, along with your books of course. They will both be your lifelong companions. Keep writing. Cultivate your psychic gifts, don’t hide them away. Always trust your intuition. I know you have no confidence at all and you feel terribly self-conscious all the time; this will pass and when you are my age you won’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. Stop hiding your body. Don’t worry about being painfully thin and having such long and skinny legs, for very soon it will be in fashion! I know you love babies and children, one day you will become a mother and it will be the happiest day of your life. You will be a grandmother one day too and that will bring you such joy, I cannot tell you. There will always be a guardian angel or two watching over you, along with our dear Irish mother. Make the most of every moment and focus on the positive. Turn every negative into a positive; it is possible. Don’t dread getting middle-aged or even old. The best is yet to come. Go mbeannai Dia duit, All my love, Caitx
PS I see you are reading Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, I warn you, it will change your life!

Retail Therapy and More

Hay on Wye
Town of Books

Christmas gift suggestions

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

Oren Arnold

Dear Diary,

I wake early to another monsoon day in spite of having gone to bed at 2.30 am.

Sundays have the best mornings. I creep down to let the dogs out and make the tea as my ‘tea-man’ seems to be on strike. Because of the extremity of the weather conditions K, the collie, seems reluctant to venture out so needs a little ‘coaxing’. It only takes a bit of encouragement using my ‘firm’ voice, that’s all you need to train dogs, tone of voice. As soon as I’ve made my tea (well-honeyed of course) I let both dogs in again. K is crouching under the back step, most unusual for her, does she know that even worse weather is forecast for today?

Back in bed I don warm socks and take up my pen and pad. Looking out of the window I have a direct view to the river and can see the dipper in my line of sight, dipping and diving (you can see how they got their name), swimming out, swimming back, a sure sign that there are fish-a-plenty in the waters again. We always ’rejoice’ when we see the dippers because of the egg that is taken from their nest each year by the academic folk from Cardiff who come trespassing and poaching eggs (excuse the pun). I wrote rather an irate blog about it last spring.

They are such clever birds in that they find the little shallow areas in the stream where the current flows into the bank and avoid the really rapid flowing parts where they wouldn’t stand a chance were they to venture in when the river is in flood. They would soon be in Herefordshire, swept along at a rate of knots.

A little later, when the dipper has gone, I see there is a wild mallard duck fishing in exactly the same spot, they are not seen very often so I am always excited when they swim past. There are certainly fish in the river! (I know that the salmon have been up recently).

I’ve been set a task by Snailbeach Shepherdess to write a letter to myself at the age of thirteen. Such a good idea. I did in fact once write a draft letter to myself as a child, as part of a book I am writing at the moment. I may have thrown the letter away though so I shall have to delve amongst my piles of papers. I believe it’s used by psychologists as a kind of therapeutic tool to make contact with your inner child. They are certainly fascinating to read and also to write. I shall work on this task and make it my next blog entry.

I am on annual leave from work at the moment as I have a lot owing to me and thought I would take it as I have the aforementioned book-writing project to finish; it’s part of my OCA course.

I went to Hay-on-Wye on Saturday with B, a dear Irish friend of mine; brollies in hand we braved the elements and indulged in some retail therapy. We were mainly browsing, not seriously Christmas shopping, but managed to find a few treasures along the way and spoilt ourselves as well - we both bought woollen hats, the same style but in different colours, mine is a sort of airforce blue and B’s a creamy kind of colour. They are both adorned with coloured flowers and tassles, they sound horrendous don’t they, but in fact they are really pretty (and warm). I shall post a photo of mine that M has kindly just taken.

We went to a local garden centre at around tea-time, had a cuppa in the café there and then a bit more retail therapy was called for. I bought some bargain books for presents. B bought me a gorgeous poinsettia plant, she is very naughty.

Then it was off to the Hollybush Inn, the place I mentioned a few blogs ago, to meet up with our husbands for drinks and a meal and to listen to Sammy G (Samuel Gomm) a singer/songwriter from Holland, originally from Welshpool in Powys.

Hollybush Inn, Hay-on-Wye

We expected a wonderful meal and we were not disappointed. B’s husband is a chef, cookery teacher, food writer and used to have his own restaurant so I would not recommend anywhere to him if I did not feel confident. The music was superb too, Samuel’s voice is wonderful, far better than lots of ‘famous’ recording artists. I wish my son had been able to come and listen, he too is a singer/songwriter.

Blessings before I go?

Hay-on-Wye, one of my favourite little towns because it is filled with bookshops and other enticements at every turn.

Friends, laughter, good company.


Singers of songs


Tellers of Tales.

I’ll sign off now, the day that lies ahead is free and I have lots of writing to do.

But first I have to pen a few words to a shy young teenager,

I have such a lot to tell her.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 5 December 2007

Sammy Squirrel

Posted by Picasa

Just Blessings and a Poem

The whole life of man is but a point of time, let us enjoy it.
Plutarch 46 AD-120 AD

Dear Diary,

I haven’t written of Blessings for so long, or posted a poem, so I shall be doing both today.

Blessings……… first for a change.

Time. This is a gift we would all like for Christmas really and surely it is the one thing that most of us crave more of. I feel a New Year resolution coming on, a bit soon perhaps, but I think I shall be seeking ways to save more time for myself in the future, as in our modern lives I see it as the most precious commodity.

The slow movement has much to commend it. Slow food, slow time, soft time indeed. Anyone read the book by Gill Edwards entitled Pure Bliss? It is a great book about this very subject and the word soft that she uses to describe time is an appropriate adjective. I too love dreamy time, meditative time, daydreaming.

Talking of dreamy time, I went to a Richard and Judy roadshow for children recently, the only one held in Wales. It took place at the very fine Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells. Three children’s authors were talking about their books which are on the R & J shortlist. I took two of my granddaughters and K was especially pleased as Cathy Cassidy, one of K’s favourites, was one of the writers. I would also add that her books are great favourites with the girls at my library.

I was pleased to see that there were lots of children there and they had the opportunity to ask the authors questions. Cathy spoke about daydreaming and how it had helped her become a writer - she actually thought that daydreaming should be part of the schools’ curriculum. A girl after my own heart if ever there was one.

Everyone says that this year has flown by. I have never known twelve months pass so quickly and I worry that this phenomenon will worsen each year. I've come to the conclusion that time only quickens when we pack too much into it, so that only leaves us one solution doesn’t it? If we persist with our need for everything to be presented to us quickly and our almost-lust for speed both in our mode of travel and in every action taken from dawn to dusk, what chance have we of making time pass more slowly?

It is only when you meditate on time that you realise that actually it doesn’t really exist; time is a man-made linear thing, There is only the Present and that is the precious gift that we are erasing, in our constant struggle, as we rush, rush, rush.

Wild Weather.

Even our river is rushing past and white horses race by upon her. The wind is blowing a gale and if it’s this bad in our sheltered valley, I know it will be much worse higher up in the hills. I enjoy these wild extremes of weather and am a self-confessed lover of rain. Today it falls in torrents and is pounding on the roof. Bliss! I hate weather that just ‘sits’; those dull, still, grey days, they are the worst.


The cottage smells of gloss paint and it’s making me feel quite lousy. The emulsion doesn’t affect me but the fumes from the gloss paint give me a sick and headachy feeling. There is no escape though if I want more colour in my life.

I now have a rich red kitchen and I love it. Like a scarlet woman she comes into her own at night when she really shows off her warmth and passion. It suits this time of year of course and someone even described it as very Christmassy (ouch!).

There will be no more painting now for a while as I have nearly banished all my white walls. Only my bedroom and what we call the wash-house remain so and three quarters of the little room upstairs that we call the study. (One of its walls is pretty pink). I have a sexy pink bathroom with blue beams, a honey gold snug and sitting room and a pink guest cum ‘music room‘.

Bargain Finds.

M and I had to go to a local market town this week and though it was raining very heavily we managed to do a wee bit of shopping. I went into an Air Ambulance charity shop and found two beautiful old china tureens, tea plates, dessert dishes and a large oval plate (Fantasia, dusky pink floral). In another tiny shop I fell in love at first sight with a Nomad, burgundy coloured, long-sleeved midi dress and most unusual, I just bought it, without even trying it on. I told myself if it didn’t fit I would either return or see if my daughter wanted it but when I got home and slipped it on it fitted perfectly.
My Christmas present to myself, I always treat myself to one. I hope you do too.

This town also has a good butcher’s shop and we bought some of their award-winning pork and leek bangers and a couple of their tasty Welsh cheeses.

My final blessing? Photographs. I should really have mentioned this one before. I’m going to start posting some of our own pics, mainly they will be M’s as he is the photographer in the family.

Before I go I promised a poem, I hope you like this one. It’s from the latest Salmon collection, the Irish publishers. See the link on this page.

The Day The Horizon Disappeared

Cast out, flung to the furthest rim of neediness,
then caught there in the branches of the danger tree,
where meaning dwells, out of reach, attached
on its green stem at the very edge of dreaming,
a sign repeating itself through branches
surging in air. Wind surrounds and blows through us.
And whose hand is tearing strips from the sky,
And whose hand will seed wild grasses
on the worn nap of the threadbare world?

Nadia Aysenburg

I’ll sign off now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,