Alexander Averin

Sunday 29 June 2008

War and the Mind

Dear Diary,

Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Much Madness is divinest Sense
To a discerning Eye-
Much Sense—the starkest Madness-
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail-
Assent—and you are sane
Demur—you’re straightway dangerous-
And handled with a Chain-

Emily Dickinson

Before I start I would ask of you - if you read nothing else today, read this blog extract, it is called Who/What/When/Will They/Get Help written by Bollinger Byrd, a fellow purplecooer.

Don't forget to come back here though, when you have read it
and watch this video.

James Blunt

No Bravery


Today is Sunday. No writing from me, I am stricken with a migrainous head but I am shamelessly treasure hunting for delights to share with you.

A friend recommended this first poem to me yesterday and reading it set me off on the search for others.

Counting the Mad

This one was put in a jacket,
This one was sent home,
This one was given bread and meat
But would eat none,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one looked at the window
As though it were a wall,
This one saw things that were not there,
And this one cried No No No No
All day long.

This one thought himself a bird,
This one a dog,
And this one thought himself a man,
An ordinary man,
And cried and cried No No No No
All day long.

Donald Justice

Somehow, to my mind, all my poems today (and the video) link up with Bollinger’s post.

On this theme, of war and the mind, my next posting will feature two Very Special People, I’ve only featured one or two so far in previous blogs; I have been pondering on who to feature next, what a sad reflection on we humans that is; there seem to be so few that spring immediately to mind. Well known people that is. Send me your suggestions please!

On a lighter note.

An Irish rainbow

I meant to do my work today

I meant to do my work today
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand..
So what could I do but laugh and go?

Richard le Gallienne

A selection of birds on one of our feeders outside the kitchen window

My blueberries

Out There

Do they ever meet out there,
The dolphins I counted,
The otter I wait for?
I should have spent my life
Listening to the waves.

Michael Longley

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit

There is always hope

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Midsummer Musings

Dear Diary,

When bright flowers bloom Parchment crumbles, my words fade The pen has dropped ...


It’s been a long time since my last confession. I’ve been chasing the dead and catching quite a few of the blighters.

I’m working on M’s family tree and getting on really well in spite of having received a tree from someone else, some years ago, that contained a completely wrong link. I had put it all up on Genes Reunited, it took berludy hours and then I had to delete it all because of the wrong line. Ah well, a good learning experience. Check everything thoroughly, especially anything anyone else tells you, don’t ever take it as gospel.

Now I am chasing a French line, this is the hardest of all. M had a French grandmother and we know little of her origins. I am having to learn how to ‘do’ genealogy French style and am calling on my ‘O’ level French. I love the language though, as well as the country - sure I was French in a past life as I often ‘think’ in their language and I could easily live in the country and feel quite at home.

AS a result of doing the tree M and I are planning a couple of jaunts this year: one to Dorset to check out where some of his ancestors came from and one to Northumberland to find a section of my roots. I can’t wait.

I am writing this while keeping one eye on the TV as the Russian tennis player Marat Safin is playing - no prizes for guessing why he is my one-to-watch and my one not-to-miss. I don’t think it’s just his skill with a racket that comes into it.

I’m pleased to say he wins the match, he was the underdog and has beaten a high class player. Djokovic. Safin received a standing ovation; apparently he is a popular guy and the most charismatic player around the circuit. So it’s not just me eh?

I have been gardening this morning. West Cork weather - warm and soft rain showers - suits me fine. I love rain and if the temperatures are clement it is all the more pleasing. I’m still battling with the ground elder, it’s going to be a constant job I’m afraid and even then I will never fully eradicate the damned stuff. I am limiting myself to a couple of hours or so a day in the garden, trying not to overdo it.

Housework is getting neglected when I am in the garden.. I can’t do both I tell myself (and I know where I’d rather be). Ah well, you know what they say about Dull Women.

I lose interest in cooking too, in the summer.

The roses are blooming profusely but the recent strong winds and the rains are spoiling them somewhat. The beds are petal-strewn but I try and save all the scented petals and dry them for pot pourri.

It’s not been warm enough to sit outside, either to eat or to read. One of my greatest pleasures is to sit in the garden, reading. I have a really lovely book at the moment, the classic, On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin.

It was his first novel and won the Whitbread. Chatwin is sadly no longer with us, he has been promoted, but on the strength of the writing in this book I will be seeking out his other past work. I thought I had already read this title but then realised I had only actually seen the film. If I have learned anything, it is that you can’t compare a book with a film, they are two different art forms entirely.

Of course the book is even more interesting because it has local interest, I know the areas in Wales that he is writing about and I understand the history, the landscape, the wild life etc. But I am sure it would appeal to anyone,regardless of where they live. Chatwin’s writing is delicious, easy to read yet full of one-liners that make you stop and draw breath, to re-read and savour, such is their delight to the soul. Some of his writing is so poetic yet humorous too and reminds me very much of Irish writers.

Here is just one example.
(Talking about identical twins).

Because they knew each other’s thoughts, they even quarrelled without speaking.


What else can I recommend book-wise?

Our library book group read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini recently and it was a success, enjoyed by all. I was wary of it as I had been unable to read his follow up book A Thousand Splendid Suns asI found it too harrowing. Kite Runner was not harrow-free but I found the subject matter somehow easier to cope with.

Our current book is Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively which I am re-reading. If you have missed this one I would strongly recommend it to you as well. Beautifully written, in a very cleverly-devised format, 'everything’ is within it and it is one of those books that works on many levels. It won the Booker in 1987, deservedly so in my opinion and I don’t always agree with Booker choices.

In September we are reading a little book written by one of our group members, a philosophical study that should provoke a healthy discussion on the meaning of life. I am really looking forward to that one!

I’ll close now with a poem. Chosen at random but one I love so. It seems so long since I have put up a poem, I hope you enjoy this.


God bless the little orchard brown
Where the sap stirs these quickening days.
Soon in a white and rosy gown
The trees will give great praise.
God knows I have it in my mind,
The white house with the golden eaves.
God knows since it is left behind
That something grieves and grieves.
God keep the small house in his care,
The garden bordered all in box,
Where primulas and wallflowers are
And crocuses in flocks.
God keep the little rooms that ope
One to another, swathed in green,
Where honeysuckle lifts her cup
With jessamine between.
God bless the quiet old grey head
That dreams beside the fire of me,
And makes home there for me indeed
Over the Irish Sea.

Katharine Tynan

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

- Ernest Dowson, 1867 - 1900

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Sunday 15 June 2008

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Dear Diary,

For Christina.

My life goes on in endless song
Above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

Robert Wadsworth Lowry

It will be a quick little blog today. It is a sunny day and not the weather to be stuck at the computer. I have just spent three hours in the garden and it was so enjoyable. I imagine it to be how Heaven would/should be. Sunshine, flowers, birds, bees, butterflies and animals for company. Pottering is one of my passions, wandering from one job to another and I would be quite happy to be a gardener in the next world.

I have been planting my three new rambler roses, (David Austin’s of course). Also another hardy fuchsia to remind me of the west of Ireland as my soul is feeling just a little bit homesick. And finally I have planted a little salvia from the plant sale last week.

This is an clready- established climber rose in the front garden.

My study window is the upstairs one.

I could spend all day pottering outside but I am stopping myself from doing so as I always overdo it and consequently I wear myself out. So I have come up the wee cottage stairs and am sitting by my window; my desk has a spectacular view out over green fields and my beloved little river of course, she is quite low at the moment. The dogs love to go and stand in it and drink the pure mountain spring water.

I’ve spent another hour digging out a bit more of the blasted ground elder that has taken over one of my large flower beds. It is exhausting toil in this heat so I only do an hour at a time before moving on to the ‘lighter’ and more pleasant tasks.

As I type this I am listening to my blog music and it is so wonderful. Alison Crowe is singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and I am very quietly singing along (M is downstairs watching the tennis). Safin isn't playing otherwise I would be watching too :-). When I am alone I'm always singing; I don’t hold back then but wouldn’t inflict my full volume on anyone else’s ears. I so love to sing: when alone in the house, out walking, or driving in the car and I have to stop myself at work or when I am idly wandering round in shops!

Apparently I used to sing all the time when I was in a cot.

Ah well, nothing changes.

But if I have to come back to Earth again then in my next life I want to have a really wonderful singing voice, perhaps like Enya?

I did a bit of research on the J Haptogroup last night. (see previous blog). Seems we came from Syria and we are one of the younger groups being a mere 10,000 years old. Some are 45,000 years old. What that means I don’t know.

Here is a pic M took the other day. Cloudwatching is one of my passions too.

Hope you like all the photos; they are M’s work so I can’t take the credit.

The kite was in the sky today and the sky, well it was above us.

I hope the sun isn’t shining on Bush and Brown in London today.

I nearly typed Bush n’ Blair. Isn’t it funny how those two surnames seemed to be joined at the hip?

All three are ‘B******’s’ if you ask me.

Here is a quotation for each of them.

If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
- Moshe Dayan

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

- Dwight David Eisenhower

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind...War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
- John F. Kennedy

I will love you and leave you and hope you are all enjoying sunshine, cloudless skies and peace today.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 13 June 2008

Light and Shade

Dear Diary,

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
George Orwell

It’s one of those days when I really feel like blogging but haven’t got a single subject in mind; instead I have several little ones going round and round in my head.

My Heart Is Heavy

My heart is heavy with many a song
Like ripe fruit bearing down the tree,
But I can never give you one --
My songs do not belong to me.

Yet in the evening, in the dusk
When moths go to and fro,
In the grey hour if the fruit has fallen,
Take it, no one will know.

Sarah Teasdale

It’s a day when I am thoroughly disenchanted with politics. Even more so than usual.

About what? How long have you got?

Non-joined-up thinking creating so-called progress. A drop in standards every which way. Bureaucracy gone mad. Threats to our services. Banging innocent people up for 42 days, banning demonstrations from Parliament Square to Downing Street against George Bush when he visits on Sunday.

Do you ever fear that so many folk are sleepwalking into a black tunnel that will be closed off at both ends one day?

On a lighter note these are my Blessings today.

Sleep and lie-ins. I had one of the latter today as Fridays are my Saturdays, well that’s what I tell myself as I have to work every Saturday morning (everyone say aaaaah).

It seems that every time I look out of a cottage window I see a parent bird feeding its baby. Be it a woodpecker, nuthatch, sparrow, tit or whatever, it is always a joy to behold.

I saw the jay for the first time this year. He flew into one of our pine trees. A beautiful shy bird but I do know he is a predator.

My garden, especially all my new David Austin rose bushes which are flowering now and their scent is heavenly.

The Dalai Lama book that I am currently reading. Details can be found on this page. The man is truly a special human being.

A new song that I have on my brain; my son’s new composition that he recorded recently. Anyone know any record producers?

And talking of guitarists…..

As I write this I am Listening Again online to Johnny Walker’s last Sunday show and Eric Clapton has rung up and is talking from the USA! What a treat to hear two of my favourite men together. My fave guitarist and my fave DJ (and both Arians, with the same birthday).

One more blessing before I go.

To aid my family history research I treated myself recently to a DNA test from the Ancestry website as they had a special offer, (as an adopted person I told myself I deserve it). I got the results today for my DNA Maternal Line and it is very exciting. Apparently I am what they call an European Traveller, a ‘J’ group. This group left Africa, moved to the Near East, went to Spain and I guess they ended up in the west of Ireland. We make up 10% of Europeans apparently. There is a lot of J group folk in Sardinia and also in Pakistan. Interesting stuff and I have a list of people to contact who have similar DNA.

Now I have requested the book The Seven Daughters of Eve (through the library) as it is meant to describe the different genealogical groups and their lifestyles in some detail.

I am eager now to do some more research…..when those blasted chores are done of course. The mountain of ironing, the weeding, the cooking.

But will I be able to wait?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

PS. Q. How can you tell when a politician is lying?

A. You can see his lips moving.

Monday 9 June 2008

A Poppy and a Poem

The Little Garden

A little garden on a bleak hillside
Where deep the heavy, dazzling mountain snow
Lies far into the spring. The sun's pale glow
Is scarcely able to melt patches wide
About the single rose bush. All denied
Of nature's tender ministries. But no, --
For wonder-working faith has made it blow
With flowers many hued and starry-eyed.
Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
Here butterflies and bees fare far to rove
Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flowers;
Here four o'clocks, to the passionate night above
Fling whiffs of perfume, like pale incense showers.
A little garden, loved with a great love!

Amy Lovell
1874 - 1925

Sunday 8 June 2008

A Task for a Sunny Sunday

A Raindrop on a Broad Bean Leaf

Dear Diary,

D J Kirkby passed on this task for us on this Sunny Sunday.

Just a bit of fun you understand.

Q. What were you doing ten years ago?

We moved here to my little old blacksmith’s cottage around ten years ago after a few years that I will only describe as ‘personally challenging’. It was the start of a feeling of being totally ‘at home’ and of good times despite more challenges that I had to surmount: two serious accidents and also an operation and treatment for breast cancer. I have come through it all. I am very happy.

We come to this Earth to learn lessons and I guess I chose a difficult path but I hope and pray the path remains fairly even from now on. I’ve learned so much in the last decade, well every decade actually, as I guess we all do, but there have also been a host of blessings along the way. A second and a third granddaughter were born and I have had so much pride in the achievements of both of my children. Also finding more family members, including my late father, five dear half-brothers and a dear half-sister. There are still blessings to be discovered every day and you can read just a few amongst these pages.

I am sorry I have gone on a bit; I was only asked what I was doing ten years ago but felt moved to tell you about the whole decade because so much has happened. I’ve nearly died (twice) but I feel sometimes that I am in heaven on Earth living here in a kind of paradise. As I write this, in brilliant sunshine, sitting in my deckchair on the riverbank, listening to gentle sounds - birdsong and slow-flowing water, watching a buzzard circling over our newly-ploughed field, I know I am truly blessed.

Q. Tell me five things on your ‘To-Do’ List Today

Planting some new plants that M bought for me yesterday at a little local Gardening Club sale.

They are:

A poached egg plant
A heather
A Phlox (just what I had been looking for lately!)
A Lupin (I pray the slugs don’t find it as I’ve lost so many to the little blighters!).

Telling M about my visit last night to see a medium on a one-to-one basis. It was truly amazing, so much so that I am in danger of becoming a little blasé about the accuracy of her readings.

‘Resting’. I was late to bed and drank a little too much of the Black Stuff in the pub last night after visiting the medium. I enjoyed the evening though as it was spent with two very dear friends.

(This links with number 3)
I should be digging out some more ground elder from a ‘long’ bed of the berludy stuff. It’s an exhausting job and it’s not the weather for it. Far too hot. I am writing this instead, inspired by D J. (Thanks!)

Tonight. Catching up with the reading of blogs. I am so behind as my computer motherboard died on me last week after a lightning strike.

Q. What snacks do you enjoy?

Very Strong Cheese and biscuits, Cheese Melts or Oatcakes, pickled onions/home-pickled shallots, with wine, Guinness or a good Real Ale.

Buttery popcorn.

1000 on a Raft as Eric Clapton calls it (Beans on toast).

Chips and mayonnaise.

A sandwich made for me with home-made bread, salad, raw or spring onion, nice tomatoes, rocket/lettuce and mayonnaise. I hate making sandwiches; I would almost rather cook a meal.

Sometimes something eggy is called for: on toast or boiled, omelletted, anything really.

Pancakes are good too.

For me the best snacks are more likely to be savoury ones. Sweet food I see as for times when I am in need of comfort or for really instant energy.

Q. Favourite places?

Where I live.

By my computer

In my bed in my bedroom (obviously)

Where I work.

Countries: Ireland, of course, especially West Cork and I love Great Blasket Island, County Kerry.


English Counties: Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Northumberland.

Welsh counties: Pembrokeshire.

Q. If you won 1 billion dollars, what would you do?

Open an animal sanctuary

Open a healing/retreat centre

Set up charitable projects

Buy a cottage in West Cork
Set up a recording studio there.

Buy a camper van.

Go on courses on subjects that interest me.

(How much is a billion dollars in English? I fear I may have overspent somewhat?).

Q What Places have you Lived in?

West Sussex
Mid Wales

It looks like only four addresses but I have had umpteen moves in my life. I may blog about them one day.

And now, with all this talk of snacks, I am getting very hungry and my tummy is calling for its lunch. What will it be I wonder?

If you have read this far Thank You as I know it’s really Boring Stuff.

Why not have a go yourself; let me know if you do and I’ll pop over and visit you.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit.

Friday 6 June 2008


Dear Diary,

Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.

William Arthur Ward

Our writing group’s homework for May.

The theme is intimidation. As if fear hadn’t been enough to tackle last month, now one of our members has delved deeper and suggested one of its compatriots, intimidation.

I think on it. Every day. Synchronistically, the word intimidation starts to crop up all the time. On radio, TV, in newspapers and magazines; it seems to be everywhere. Isn’t it always the way?

The word keeps breaking down in my mind:


Make someone timid (within).

I think on timidity; this brings me back to fear again but this new word reeks of cowardice, weakness, nervousness, not a good mix of emotions to own up to feeling. I straightaway rebel against this emotion. It’s an instinctive thing I guess. My Irish genes will out; I always relish a challenge, always ready for the fight.

I remember the O’Connor family motto.

Nec timeo spurno

I neither fear nor spurn.

Intimidation. It’s a kind of war really, a battle of the aforementioned nerves. The enemy uses it as a form of deterrent, a means of control. S/he terror-ises. Terrorism can be the underdog’s unholy fight for freedom but can also be a weapon to rule by those in charge if they try to make us see it as a real and ever-constant threat, (whether it is or not). So do we live under its reign whatever flag it flies?

Scaremongering needs Fear and Alarm as its sidekicks when Big Brother comes calling and is it me or does He seem to be a constant caller these days? Is this the Age of Intimidation? Is it part of a ruling power’s armoury, so much so that now we see the authorities as bogeymen as their sabre-rattling envelops us all in a veil of fear? (or tries to).

In - timidation involves the use of untruths and blackmail. And in order for threats to succeed they have to make us apprehensive and fearful (that F word again) - of whatever reprisal may befall us. So if the threat is a real one then fear is indeed a wise response. But shouldn’t we make it a positive response? By fighting against intimidation in all its guises. By being positive and fighting negativity. By joining together in peace and fighting against war.

Someone, I forget who, wrote that fear is the opposite of love and that fear dissolves in the light of love.

So I’ll sign off now with Love and Light and with just a little Hope too.

How about Hope for next month’s homework?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,