Alexander Averin

Monday 28 January 2008


Dear Diary,

God loved the birds and invented trees, Man loved the birds and invented cages
Jacques Deval

A few words on birds, our much-loved feathered friends.

I’ll start with a few poems.

A Celtic poem

Little bird! O little bird!
I wonder at what thou doest,
Thou singing merry far from me,
I in sadness all alone!

Little bird! O little bird!
I wonder at how thou art
Thou high on the tips of branching boughs,
I on the ground a-creeping!

Little bird! O little bird!
Thou art music far away,
Like the tender croon of the mother loved
In the kindly sleep of death.


A Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

I Looked Up

I looked up and there it was
among the green branches of the pitchpines—
thick bird,
a ruffle of fire trailing over the shoulders and down the back—
colour of copper, iron, bronze—
lighting up the dark branches of the pine.
What misery to be afraid of death.
What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.
When I made a little sound
it looked at me, then it looked past me.
Then it rose, the wings enormous and opulent,
and, as I said, wreathed in fire.

Mary Oliver

We’ve just had the RSPB birdwatch weekend and we were asked to do a bird-count for an hour. I didn’t actually get time to do this but I do know the visitors that I have at the moment. The regular ones that always visit just as long as there is food out will come every day, all day long, back and forth to the tables. I have a table in my back garden, by the kitchen window, handy to look at while I am washing up or cooking and one by the river bank in the front garden. I can see the latter from my desk at the moment. My dear neighbour J also feeds them so they have a choice of fast food outlets to choose from in this locality, lucky birds. Our feeding stations provide peanuts, mixed corn, porridge oats, hunks of M’s home made bread which they just gobble as fast as they can, they adore it so and I also put out other odds and ends, whatever is to hand really. Sammy Squirrel helps them clear their tables of course,

One of my borrowers at the library said that he has a sparrowhawk visitor to his garden who actually sits on his bird table waiting/hoping to catch some smaller avine visitors. Our sparrowhawk hides at a safe distance, still and quiet, just like a cat, he just watches. Spooky really but I have to tell myself it is just Nature and I mustn’t interfere. Though haven’t I interfered already by providing (unnatural) food to lure the wild birds to my garden?

I don’t call it a garden though, it’s more a wildlife garden/nature-reserve-in-the-making and it sits beside a river, a field and some woodland and we are surrounded by farmland. I am trying to make a haven for wildlife here and there is a lot of life around.

I do feel that I share my little home with all these creatures but only on a small scale for surely we humans are sharing the planet with all the other forms of life aren’t we? We are such an arrogant species that we behave as if we are THE only life-force that matters on the planet. But we are relative newcomers, are we not? And if we carry on as we are we may not be here for very much longer. But the Earth will survive.

But I digress again. I just asked M if he had anything to contribute to this wee blog about birds and he said ‘If they wear mini-skirts they are more attractive’. So I think we’ll gloss over his contribution shall we?

Back to the weekend bird count. I know we had the following visitors though not all at once.

Blackbirds, thrushes, wood pigeons, nuthatch, great tits, blue tits, wren, sparrows, magpies, crows, greater spotted woodpecker, greenfinches, goldfinches, yellowhammer, chaffinches, robins, siskins. Buzzards and kites flew overhead as usual. At work I have the ravens. And last but not least on the riverbank at home are my darling dippers. At night we had owls. I saw a dead pheasant on the road near here and that was very sad as he may have been a visitor, an escapee from some cruel hunting ground.

There are some who say that birds are symbolic, divine messengers of the Spirit, kinds of angels in feathered form. I have a special tree in our field, it’s a crab-apple and a very old and wise tree he is too. I feel very calm and comforted when I am near him, I take him all my troubles. And the funny thing is when I go and visit him for a spot of tree-human communion, a robin or two always comes and perches on a branch near me. I talk to them too and they answer. Robins are especially communicative aren’t they? OK some of you will dismiss me as a little deranged, so if you do, stop reading now and go and find a sensible, down to earth blogger - but if you want to stick with me and don’t think me mad, thanks. I call all birds angels and can’t imagine life without their company and especially their song. I’ve mentioned Belsen before, the place where there are plenty of trees but not one bird.

We have bird boxes in the garden, it will soon be Spring and they will soon be snapped up by excited and passionate young homemakers taking up residence and preparing their nests. I especially look forward to the pied flycatchers who nest over the road in a box on a ‘special’ pine tree near the forge. They have lots of bird boxes next door too, including owl boxes and also a smaller bird box with a built in camera, I hope to buy one of those for the granddaughters this year. I shall have to find out if you need a separate TV to be able to fix one up.

I’d better sign off now, but before I go here is one last poem.
They are favourite poets of mine, Mary Oliver and Maya Angelou, I hope you like these poems too.


This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing
the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing
better to do
than listen.
I mean this
In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door
to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,
but gods.
It is my favourite story--
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give
but their willingness
to be attentive--
but for this alone
the gods loved them
and blessed them--
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water
from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,
and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down--
but still they asked for nothing
but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.
Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning--
whatever it was I said
I would be doing--
I was standing
at the edge of the field--
I was hurrying
through my own soul,
opening its dark doors--
I was leaning out;
I was listening

Mary Oliver

Of course the one thing I really admire and envy about birds is their ability to fly, for that would be a gift I would love to own.

I have flown in my dreams before now but that’s another story, another blog, one on dreams perhaps? I feel one coming on……

Just a song before I go, one I absolutely love, another oldie.

Songbird by
Fleetwood Mac, written and sung by Christine McVie.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Chinese Proverb

Bye for now,

PS The last two bird pics are by an artist friend of mine, Sean Milne.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Why Worry Now?

Dear Diary,

If I ever lose my faith by Sting.

I hope you will enjoy this Sting song as much as I do.

Be the change you want to see in the world
Mahatma Ghandi

Lost faith seems to be in abundance at the moment; lost faith in all politicians, whatever their colour (or have they all merged into the one colour these days?), lost faith in big businesses, banks, the media, justice for all, conventional medicine, service providers, standards, I could go on. Corruption prevails. So much so that doom and gloom seem to be the order of the day. Mistrust and cynicism are our daily companions while Big Brother watches over us. Fear and ignorance grow hand in hand (the two go together). But if we live in this fearful, depressed state we are also being dumbed-down and made easier to control and there fascism can easily take over us and rule. That is the battle we should be fighting. We never learn from our history, that is the trouble with the human race.

So blessings may well have to be personal when outwardly all seems bleak, but we have been here before.

Cliches? Yes of course there are probably always far too many cliches in this blog. I make no apologies.

Blessings? Harder to find some days.

The Chat Room I visit. We share opinions, ideas, problems, jokes. The company is mostly female but not always. It’s a lovely place to be. I will share a joke I heard last night.

Q. Why are Irish jokes so simple?

A. So that the English can understand them.

I think I will post more jokes, we all need as many laughs as possible these days.

A Day Without Rain. We are promised one today if dear Uncle Derek Brockway is right and much as I love him I have to admit that he has been wrong a bit recently. And also, much as I love rain, you can have too much of a good thing (Oh yes you can, even Guinness).

A clutch of novels by my bed. I am savouring them, deciding which to start first. What is the right word for a group of novels? Any suggestions? Don’t say library.

Good health. I thank God every day for this one.

Spring which is beckoning.
My snowdrops are just flowering and the daffodils are slowly rising. Last autumn I planted a cyclamen beneath the pine trees by the river and yesterday I discovered it was flowering, that was a welcome sight.

My daughter’s 30th birthday, that was a wonderful thing to celebrate, being the anniversary of one of the two happiest days of my life. The other being when my son was born, that will come in the summer. I had one winter baby and one summer one. I wonder if characters are influenced by the season they arrive in the world

A Good Night’s Sleep in clean sheets.

Completion of Projects and looking forward to New Ones.

My sister-in-law once said that we should always have something to look forward to, to keep us going. How right she was. What are you looking forward to? Every day try and focus on that and all the blessings in your life.

When I was laid up for three months in the Midlands Spinal Unit with a broken neck I had a lot of time to think. Lying on your back unable to move leaves a lot of time for thinking. I used to watch visitors pass by my bed and see their legs walking. I remember thinking how amazing it was, their ability to walk and their taking it so for granted.

I’ve had several opportunities in my life to appreciate being alive but in that respect I am lucky for it’s when you have been close to death, more than once, you appreciate every moment in life. Life is so short, none of us are here for very long and love is really all that matters. So I never worry about the Small Stuff and let’s face it most of what we get het up about is small. I still get angry, rebellious, frustrated, pessimistic even but I never worry.

Before I go some more words by John O’Donohue, God rest him.

Our longing for the eternal kindles our imagination to bless. Regardless of how we configure the eternal, the human heart continues to dream of a state of wholeness, that place where everything comes together, where loss will be made good, where blindness will transform into vision, where damage will be made whole, where the clenched question will open in the house of surprise, where the travails of life's journey will enjoy a homecoming. To invoke a blessing is to call some of that wholeness upon a person now.

Death was nothing to John O'Donohue --- a silent friend who walks beside us all our days. And on the other side? "I believe that our friends among the dead really mind us and look out for us," he wrote. "Often there might be a big boulder of misery over your path about to fall on you, but your friends among the dead hold it back until you have passed by."

Let it Be.

Bye for now.
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

I love this song

Why Worry Now? The old Dire Straits song sung here by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. I hope you like it too.

Sunday 13 January 2008

John O'Donohue 1954-2008 RIP, Anam Cara

I posted this quotation not many moons ago. I post it here again.

I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding."

-- John O'Donohue

There is a book I keep close to me, by my bedside, it was given to me by C, my newfound Irish sister. It is called Anam Cara which means soul friend. It is a book of Celtic wisdom and is probably my favourite and most comforting spiritual book. I know some of you know and love Anam Cara as I do and will be very sad to hear of John's passing last week. John O'Donohue was a mystic, a poetic and highly inspirational Irish writer who will be sorely missed.

Below is a link to his website with details about John and his other writings.

This is one of my favourite poems written by John:


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 ~
(Echoes of Memory)

May he rest in peace,

Saturday 12 January 2008

Just a Day in My Life

A Day in the Life of A Boy

U2 A Beautiful Day


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin

Purplecoo is a group of writers (and cyber- friends) that meet here in cyber-space. We have set each other the task of writing about a day in our lives.

As my name is near the beginning of the alphabet it befalls upon me to write mine now, in January, in the bleak midwinter, as the dear poet Christina Rossetti would say.

I would prefer to do this task in my favourite month of May because my Spring Self is a different person to the one I am now. She would be full of energy and optimism, her sap would be rising. She would not be huddling, she would be out and about in Nature. With much of interest to report. Her day would be more interesting I am sure.

So please bear with me. Much of what I write will be intensely boring.

My January Winter Self’s longing for hibernation is to the fore. Living without central heating makes keeping warm a preoccupation. She is happiest by the woodburner, watching the flames. Stoking the fire. Reading, writing, eating, that sort of thing. Hot baths, hot chocolate, hot toddies. Sleeping and napping. She forces herself outside as daylight hours are short. The pineal gland needs this light or the dreaded Black Dog comes calling.


Radio 4 is one of my delightful daily companions and I am woken every morning at 7pm by the Today programme. I endure an hour of the latest news, (some kind of masochist this woman you must be thinking?). I especially enjoy it when John Humphries is on, he speaks up for me don’t you know? Because I get riled at lots of things and go into Grumpy Old Woman mode. This gets my blood pressure up anyway and helps get me out of bed .

Today is such a day as the discussion is about those poor twins who got married without knowing they were brother and sister. I am at the moment finishing writing my own memoir of my experience of being an adopted person. I have found four dear half- brothers quite recently (I have six in all) and could quite easily have met up with one of them as we all grew up in the London area. We could have fallen in love and who knows what could have happened?

This denial of one’s identity is a subject that is so close to my heart and I have been banging on about it for years. And those poor souls created artificially by sperm/egg donation have been treated even worse than adopted children

But these poor twins sufferings were twofold, they were separated (that is the wickedest crime in itself) and taken (stolen) for adoption. Then they were denied knowledge of their identity. It breaks my heart, what it has done to theirs beggars belief.

I had better stop now, I could go on.

M brings me a mug of honeyed tea without which I would find it well nigh impossible to get out of bed. The Today hour is intermingled with a little reading, maybe writing/blogging a bit, or more often than not just looking out of the window at the river and the birds etc. I have blogged a lot about this morning routine in the past so many apologies for repeating myself.

I can see the dipper is busy dipping as the river is mighty high. We have had so much rain and much as I love it I do long for snow, Its pure blue-whiteness might brighten my January, I love the beauty of snow and the unique quietness she carries with her, there’s nothing like it is there? The photographs one can take (well M can take) are just pure poetry. Being snowed in is heaven even though I do have to take the time as annual leave from work.

Talking of work, today is Saturday, for most people it’s a day off but for me I have to work the morning. I love my job because I am in my element which is books and I also love my borrowers, all of them. It’s always more relaxed on a weekend, anyone who works in a library will tell you that. I leave a little early this morning as I have to go to the post office (for work) in town. The drive there is amazing as there is blue sky and shafts of sunlight are shining on the mountains in the distance. I can’t believe it, what a treat.

I arrive at the post office and luckily there is not a queue. This establishment is yet another of our rural amenities under constant threat of closure. Now our local arts centre has come under the shadow of the axe. So now it is art centres, schools, libraries, post offices, public toilets (!)tourist information centres….. I wonder what facilities will be left sometimes. The little local bank has been saved in the past as has the Heart of Wales railway line.


When I arrive at work I am greeted by a big delivery box full of books, some new ones and lots of requested titles so I am soon on the phone to the borrowers to tell them their books or books are ready for collection.

We have a lot of book requests from this branch library, issue numbers are still rising as are membership numbers. The writing group has two new members and the book group is still flourishing. We are meeting next Monay evening to compare H E Bates’ Fair Winds for France with Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five which should make for another lively discussion, this time about the realities of war.

An elderly borrower I haven’t seen since the summer comes in she had been poorly and a friend has been collecting her books. I had missed her and seeing her has made my morning.

We have server problems and there is no internet connection, which is a pity as I have to turn people away, especially embarrassing as some are visitors to the town. It is the Saturnalia Beer Festival this weekend, one of the popular green events.

Half of the town was without internet and phone for three weeks recently, we are not top priority for BT in rural mid Wales.

I have the usual mix of visitors, young and old alike.
People interact, share a smile, a joke, a book recommendation. It’s a real meeting place, the library.

It’s a steady Saturday, sometimes it’s so busy that I hardly get a chance to make a cuppa or get to the loo (I work alone). But today it flies by, as always and I lock up well after closing time because there are a few late arrivals, but I don’t mind. There are four children amongst them and one has just completed the Book Crawl and is keen to choose his free book. I always think that even if I get just one child reading and loving books then my job as a librarian will have been worthwhile. Being able to share my passion with others and getting paid for it too - I am very lucky to be in that situation

I’m starving when I get home and I have my usual Saturday lunch, beans and grated cheese on marmite toast topped with chilli sauce…… accompanied by dear old Radio 4 again (Any Questions and Any Answers). M is watching a film but shares some beans with me. I am still hungry so I have two toasted hot cross buns (topped with marmite, you should try it) and two mugs of tea. After that I am really tired (I had another sleepless night last night, a really serious attack of insomnia) so it’s time for a treat, time for a nap…..

It is National Year of the Nap after all…….

I wake exactly two hours later and it’s dark! And raining hard and another day gone. I feel a little groggy as you do after a sleep in the daytime. M makes me a mug of tea. He’s been on the computer, he’s found a site on old Godalming, Surrey, his old hometown and is happily recording a few historical memories of the place. I lived and worked there once and it is where we met, but that was many, many moons ago.

I feed my dear white cat Molly. I feel guilty because I haven’t taken the dogs for a run in the field and it’s too dark and wet now (OK I am too lazy, let me be honest for once!). I will make up for it tomorrow. Aren’t dogs such forgiving animals?

I don’t feel like cooking a meal. Are you like me? I don’t cook with much gusto unless I am hungry. I delay the deed as neither of us is hungry. M opens a bottle of wine, it is Saturday after all. I check the paper to see what’s on TV tonight. Nothing. Do they think everyone goes out on a Saturday? I really must look into Sky Plus so I can record what I want to see and when I want to see it.

I have plenty to read though. I’ve borrowed:

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (library book group’s choice).

Angels Watching Over Me by Jacky Newcomb

Sage-ing while you’re age-ing by Shirley Maclaine

Your Soul’s Compass by Joan Borysenko

I also have at home:

The Almost Moon (great title) by Alice Sebold (love her writing)


The Sad Truth about Happiness by Anne Giardini.

So who needs TV anyway?

I also have a wonderful book called Tracing your Irish Family History by Ryan Tubridy & Anthony Adolph. According to this man my O’Connor line goes back to Noah! Might explain my love of animals and my affinity with rain and boats!

The rest of the evening will be spent catching up on my writing assignment for my OCA course. Wish me luck, I hope to finish my adoption tale this month. From then on I am looking forward to writing from my imagination rather than recording the truth about myself. Perhaps it is too painful, this resurrection of past memories. Much easier to record this day just passing now,

So what will I remember about this glory day?

Its blessings I suppose.

Sunlight and sky, an ever-changing work of art.

The fact that M seems to be feeling a lot better. I have had so many broken nights disturbed by his coughing that I am exhausted! As he is of course.

My lovely borrowers.

Books, books and more books.

A quote I read in the Guardian.

The Dalai Llama says that religion is ‘only kindness’.

How wise is he?

Bye for now,
God Bless,

Before I go here is one more poem.
Shows just one example how our days are blessed indeed compared to others.

Day In The Life Of The Parkbench Man

Long til night...mewling,
Sun newborn. Dawned in
Swaddling clouds
Keeping it warm.

A man shuffles the sidewalk,
Picking a penny, eyeing
The date.
Pockets Abe. Snags a
Can some woman dropped...

Bag over-full...heels tic-tacking
Cement. Yesterday...dreams.
Today...peaches. One penny.
Clouds. Raindrops. No sun.

Long til dawn...mumbles
Ancient lips...
Swaddled in newspapers,
Keeping him warm.

Elysabeth Faslund

Last but not least:

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen
Glory Days

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Resolutions 2008

I wish you all a Happy New Year

Dear Diary,

Firstly just a few words on Christmas, I am resisting a full-blown rant.

Most words that spring to mind begin with the letter ‘E’.

Excessive being linked to them all… not to mention the waste of food, paper, plastic, energy, time…..

Expense (leading to debt).

Eating (compulsion towards, leading to indigestion).

Enforcement (of jollity, a death to spontaneity, leading to depression).

Finally comes Exhaustion, especially for the females of our species.

But hey-ho it’s 2008, Christmas over at last. Only three hundred and fifty something days to go. Rejoice!

New Year Resolutions, 2008.

Concerning Time.

Does anyone else feel like me? Permanently rushed? Or rather pressured to be rushed? This seems sometimes to be a general state of being, not just a Christmas thing. From now on I want to live in praise of slow. There’s even a book with this title that I bought for my daughter for Christmas. V alerted me to the website and I have ordered the book through the library for myself.

The aforementioned book reminded me of one I bought for both my children last year which was How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson, it’s a must-read for everyone. (I have mentioned it before in a blog).

Concerning Sleep

I am going to Get More Sleep by indulging in far more Early Nights curled up with a Good Book and I am going to take more occasional Afternoon Naps when the fancy takes me. This is a very important resolution for me as I am in the habit of burning far too much of the midnight oil. It’s hard being a night owl and coming awake at night-time but I am going to try to change my ways for my health’s sake.

Concerning Diet

Also for my health’s sake I am going to eat more vegetarian meals. One of my favourite cookbooks is Rose Elliot’s Cheap and Easy, also mentioned before, I apologise.

I am also intending to drink less alcohol, restricting it to weekends only and sticking to Guinness and wine (but not together).

They all seem to be health-related, here’s one more.

Concerning my Sanity

I am going to watch less TV news. Need I say more?

Concerning the Spirit.

I am going to try and find the time for more regular meditation and relaxation, self-Reiki and the like.

Last but not least I’m going to dance to my own tune, nobody else’s. I most sincerely hope you do too, indeed please take it as my New Year’s wish for you all.

Before I go, a poem..

Will you remember these words, when you grow old?”

“I believe in your lips
but not in your tongue.
Your lips are salubrious
but venomous is your tongue.
It intoxicates those lips,
my guide of an eternal road
through the dark unknown –
a core languid with the burden
of the soul, and a soul languid
with the burden of the core,”
says an infant to the world.

The world whispered,
“My child, in your mother’s womb
you dream that you can make
the world dance, to your own tune;
Suddenly yours eyes open;
and you see the world as it really is,
the dead leaves floating in the wind,
in the human valley, plagued by the
ripening diversity, and decaying unity.”

No, my world!
“I shall never be hopeless,
whatever you may say.
I shall rhyme my life with the
rhythm of the God’s chime, and
row my boat of love over the human’s core
until their stream of abhorrence runs dry,”
sang the infant to the world.

But, my child, said the world,
“Will you remember these words, when you grow old?”

©Bhuwan Thapaliya

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,