Alexander Averin

Friday 27 February 2009

Blessings mostly

For no reason other than I love cottages and their windows.

An Irish cottage window.

Dear Diary,

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate”

Bertrand Russell 1872-1890

A short blog today methinks. I could write reams about the fnancial situation, the greed that exists in our society and how money is indeed at the root of most evil. But I won't. Not today anyway.

Just Blessings.

It will soon be World Book Day.

To be honest every day is book day for me.
And I like nothing more than discovering a Good Read especially by recommendations from other bibliophiles.. I am in two book groups, one virtual, one at the library.. I also read loads of reviews of course and adore booky blogs.

I shall post some much-loved titles here from time to time so do watch this space. Just for today I will mention The Story of Edgar Sawtelle again. A fantastic book, especially if you are a dog-lover as I am. But you don’t have to be. Just read it.

And talking of just for today (I will not worry) I want to mention Self-Reiki. It is meant to be especially powerful. It certainly works as I had a deep and dreamless sleep last night and it has made me feel quite rested.

I always look forward to new music releases by my favourite artists. I can’t wait to hear U2’s new CD which is out on March 2nd.

Classic TV and radio programmes. Life would be sad without them.

Radio 4, I love it so and did enjoy Desert Island Discs this morning. I hardly ever miss it. Today it was David Walliams and I found it quite revealing. His music, which was like a sound track to his life so far, was full of longing and loss. So many funny, creative souls have their sad, dark and melancholic side don’t they? Coincidentally, the book he chose to take to his desert island was a collection of Philip Larkin’s poems. I featured the poem Days by Larkin in my last blogpost.

I also featured the recipe for M's fruit cake in my last posting.

Talking of which, here is the proof:

And now I am off to cut myself a slice and a lump of mature cheddar cheese to go with it. Can anyone recommend a really strong cheddar by the way? We just can't seem to find a good one. I may then curl up with Anita Shreve (Testimony) and a cuppa or two and I may drift off to sleep, who knows? I have to stay up tonight as there is a very important rugby match to watch - Wales are playing France in the Six Nations. Fingers and everything crossed Cymru!

But I shall end with Larkin once more in honour of David Walliams and Desert Island Discs. I shall post my own island record choice as soon as I get aroundtuit (anyone know who sells those?).


Down stucco sidestreets,
Where light is pewter
And afternoon mist
Brings lights on in shops
Above race-guides and rosaries,
A funeral passes.

The hearse is ahead,
But after there follows
A troop of streetwalkers
In wide flowered hats,
Leg-of-mutton sleeves,
And ankle-length dresses.

There is an air of great friendliness,
As if they were honouring
One they were fond of;
Some caper a few steps,
Skirts held skilfully
(Someone claps time),

And of great sadness also.
As they wend away
A voice is heard singing
Of Kitty, or Katy,
As if the name meant once
All love, all beauty.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Monday 23 February 2009

Gone in a Flash

Dear Diary,

Come out of the circle of time
And into the circle of love.


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

There is too much time between these blog confessions; too many days have passed and all of them in a flash.

Why does life get in the way?
Why does Time go too quickly?
How can I slow it down?
Suggestions please in the comment box.

Half the morning has gone already as I had a lie-in and didn't wake till nearly ten (but I did stay up late last night, anyway that's my excuse). Then after breakfast I plucked up the energy to phone the electricity board to query a bill. It was a strain but the Scottish lady at SWALEC was very professional, really kind and patient and put up with my poor hearing, my even poorer grasp of anything mathematical and my inability to understand her broad Scots accent. Half an hour later it was all sorted and I received a credit of twenty quid because they had made a cock-up of their (incomprehensible) bill.

I have walked the dogs and promised the garden I will spend more time with it soon as I can. I have writing projects that I must work on. Also I would rather be out taking photos but that will have to wait.

Blessings have taken a back seat lately but I will draw a few out for you today.

I love Mondays and for that reason they will be my first blessing today. For me they are a non-work day and I am usually nicely rested after a Sunday (my favourite day of all). For most folk who work full-time they are something of a dread-day but for me I sometimes feel they are my only 'Me' days as I usually feel free to fill them in whatever way I please.

Snowdrops. They seem to be everywhere and not just in my own garden. Lots of people are posting the most glorious photographs of them and portraying them in such profusion. They make my plants seem relatively few by comparison even though I had been waxing lyrical about their abundance.

I now have an electric blanket and I want to wax lyrical about that too. I had one years ago for a while but I think they must have improved since then. My daughter suggested I treat myself to one as I had been suffering during our recent spell of freezing weather and so I did - to a gorgeous fleecy Morphy Richards one which I bought online. It hasn't been that cold since it arrived but I have been testing it out - indulging myself and switching it on for an hour before I go to bed. It is Absolute Luxury. It's like lying in a warm bath and it must do my spine good. I am sleeping well too.

M's fruit cake will have to be a blessing too. I am tucking in now as I type.

Would you like his (slightly altered) recipe?

The cake is scrummy with a hunk of cheese by the way and so quick to make.

Boiled Fruit Cake a la M.

12 ozs mixed fruit or I prefer just sultanas and a few currants thrown in
as I don't like the 'packet' peel
2 Tbs mincemeat
4 ozs brown sugar
4 ozs marge
8 ozs SR flour
2 Tbs mixed spice
Quarter pint water
2 beaten eggs - free range of course
Half tsp baking powder
A little grated lemon peel, orange peel or both.

Put fruit, sugar, marge and spice in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 2 minutes. When cool add 2 beaten eggs and flour.Whack into a non-stick 2lb loaf tin. A piece of greaseproof paper in the bottom helps - grease inside of tin generously.

Bake in middle of oven Gas mark 3 for an hour and a half or so.
Cool a while in the tin and turn onto a wire tray.

Like most things this improves with age.

Final blessing? I like to stick to five; must have my five a day.

Simplicity. Doing Without and Giving Up. I am working hard on these and not just for financial reasons. There were never three truer words than Less is More. It is truly liberating to not do something, not buy something, not go somewhere and to Just Say No. Even the home-made cake is part of our changing habits, we are making biscuits again as well and going back to just buying the absolute necessities. Like all of us I am finding that money is not going anywhere and just like time it is disappearing in a flash. I work very hard to earn my meagre salary and although I am lucky to be in employment, albeit part-time, like all workers I feel disheartened. So I am restricting myself spending-wise. I love thrift both the word and the concept (and the plant too!) - perhaps because being thrifty is a challenge and we Arians like nothing more than a challenge. So many things that we are pressurised into feeling that we need or that we must have are really totally unnecessary.

So that is all for today apart from this treat:

Time after Time by Eva Cassidy, God rest her.


Bye for now and remember, as Colette said

Time spent with cats is never wasted.


Wednesday 18 February 2009

Snowdrops, Spring and White Feathers

Dear Diary,

I am tasting Spring.

Snowdrops are abundant and popping up in places I have never seen them before. Under hedges and on the grass (by no stretch of imagination can I call it a lawn). Their whiteness seems brighter and their blossoms fuller. M thinks they thrive in the snow, he could be right. There are still odd patches and ribbons of snow on the tops of the hills and mountains, it's amazing how it hangs about isn't it? The two snowmen outside our neighbour's house have shrunk to about a foot high, they are quite a comical sight.

I find a single whiter than white feather in the field, that is the second in two days. I found one on my bedside chair yesterday. Ang passe as they say, another angel has passed by.

It is a pleasure to be outside in the field or the garden. No errands to run today so I can take it easy. I am a little tired as it was Writing Group last night and afterwards we were in the pub till after midnight. I can't seem to do Late Nights any more - not with Early Mornings anyway.

We have homework for writing group and I have done mine already. Guilt made me do it as I have failed to do any recently. I set the subject too. We each chose a word at random from the dictionary and we have to write a piece using all the words which are:

inconsequential, marmalade, calypso, overpowering, loss, offensive and faith.

This is my effort. Marmalade was a bummer I can tell you so forgive me for that rather weak part. Her hair was nearer black to be honest.

Please read the Michael Hartnett poem in my previous blog to see why I tried to do my own interpretation of one particular Irish woman.

Life of an Irishwoman
(aka Michael Hartnett)

Ignorant, in the sense her faith became an armour-like protection from overpowering loss. And patient, in the sense she kept her temper lidded.
Bereft, in the sense she’d lost her All.
Her head, her heart, her health, her kin and certainly all Hope.
And lulled, as if by belief, her rhythms though were random, her actions inconsequential.

I loved her from the day I was born.

She was a lively jig, an Irish-soft calypso,
No, not for her the funeral’s mournful dirge.
Her hair glinted with the colour of Seville oranges.
She was not so bitter as their marmalade, but sweet.
She was my cradle-song, a tiny infant’s lullaby.
She was an orphan, unloved and disconnected.
She was spoiling for a fight but with all the wild aggression kept in check.
Living on the edge of rile, while all around her was offensive.
She was a poem of two worlds, the past and now.
She was their hunger and their story writ in blood and tears.

Cait O’Connor

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 13 February 2009

Love Hurts

Dear Diary,

Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.

~Author Unknown

I am better but it's a really lazy blog tonight, no words from me, just a couple of favourite poems and two pictures.

And a song from Heart, the original was by the late great Roy Orbison of course,God rest him.

First a poem, nothing to do with romance but a lot about Love.

Death of an Irishwoman

Ignorant, in the sense
she ate monotonous food
and thought the world was flat,
and pagan, in the sense
she knew the things that moved
all night were neither dogs or cats
but pucas and darkfaced men
she nevertheless had fierce pride.
But sentenced in the end
to eat thin diminishing porridge
in a stone-cold kitchen
she clenched her brittle hands
around a world
she could not understand.
I loved her from the day she died.

She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
She was a card game where a nose was broken.
She was a song that nobody sings.
She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
She was a language seldom spoken.
She was a child's purse, full of useless things.

Michael Hartnett

And in honour of red roses as they are the symbol of Romantic Love, a poem by my much-loved Yeats,

To The Rose Upon The Rood Of Time

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, where of stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
Come near, come near, come near - Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more bear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.

W B Yeats

And finally a song for Valentine's Day, a warning perhaps?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Saturday 7 February 2009

Biding Time

A painting by Helen Allingham, one of my favourite artists.

Dear Diary,

It will be a short blog today as I am not too well at the moment. Serves me right for going out in freezing temperatures, getting cold feet, sitting too long at the computer in a cold room and not tucking my vest in.

I am really frustrated because I want to be out taking photos. Never mind, it's not all bad; Ireland won at rugby today so that is one blessing. Now all I want is Wales to win tomorrow. me of the Divided Loyalties of course. My son-in-law is up in Scotland for the match and our family will be glued to the TV tomorrow afternoon.

Any more blessings? I haven't done any for a while now.

Antibiotics, warm fires, good books and good blogs to read. And sleep...always the best thing.

Here are a few pics for now, some taken before I was stricken.

One of my garden angels

My moon-gazing hare (it will soon be full!)

Two young buzzards desperate for food in this frozen snow

Our dippers on the bridge.

M took these bird ones and through a cottage window so the quality is not great.

The buzzards are young which seems odd at this time of year; they have been hanging about the garden and the bird table eating anything they can.  Magpies  have also been circling.  Both would love a small  bird for their supper.  But here the buzzards are tucking into some bread.

The dippers have never been seen on the bridge before; perhaps they like its new location? (For those of you who do not know, the bridge 'moved' in our Great Flood last year - amazing photos of which can be seen in a previous blog).

Usually the dippers watch and wait at the edge of the river and dive in and swim to catch fish. Wonderful to observe. We are very lucky to have them nesting really close by as they are quite rare and can only be found in unpolluted waters.

I will sign off now but leave you with a poem by Langston Hughes. It is called Dreams.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Five Paintings

This is homework for Purplecoo, I don't always get around to doing it, (I am such a bad pupil) but I could not resist this task which was to choose five favourite paintings.

It was so very very hard to choose just five. I love so many. It is a bit like being asked to choose a favourite author or a favourite book (that is also impossible).

My cottage is full of pictures, a lot feature rural scenes and/or children funnily enough, many have cottages in them.

The first, 'There's Always Tomorrow' by Betsy Cameron is a current favourite. I have crazes for images in the same way as I do for songs. I seem to go for 'back view' images of people, I like photos of back views too; I feel they have more to say somehow.

The second one, Flowers on the Windowsill is by Carl Larsson of course. I adore all his paintings.

The last three are by Paul Henry. Blasket Island, The Watcher (another back view) and Achill Head. I could have posted five or even all of Paul Henry's pictures but that would maybe have been a bit boring for you. If I ever won the lottery I would love to own one or two of his.

The current header picture by the way is Frances MacDonald McNair's Girl and Butterflies

Well I hope you like them. I will post a few more of my much-loved in future, maybe one at a time when I blog.

Bye for now,

More February Snow

Surprise blossom in the optimistically-named gravel garden

A view downstream

My first black and white - the marshy area in the field.

I call it the pond and it is Kitty's favourite place to splosh in as she loves water whatever the season. It's a large sunken area on the site of an old Roman Road and it is said the area was dug out and the roadstone removed many years ago.

Just a drop of white magic in the snow

That's all for now folks. I have to choose five favourite paintings for Purplecoo homework and will post these some time soon.

So watch this space,

Bye for now,
Go mbeanna Dia duit,
Posted by Picasa

Monday 2 February 2009

With February Came the Snow

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight;
But if it be dark with clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.

The snow has arrived at last. So far it has been light snow but persistent; the wind blows in gusts with quite an intensity and still has an icy coldness in its bite.

I love it. So do the dogs, we are like a group of kids as we set off for our walk. Well they run, snuffling and licking the snow as they go and I walk. I pop my camera in my pocket, just in case.

The oak wood

By the lane in the distance

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Robert Frost

Sunday 1 February 2009

One-Word Sunday

Just a bit of fun, a One-Word Sunday Meme.  A bit late though as it's Monday already.

1. Where is your mobile phone (cell)
2. Your significant other?
3. Your hair?
4. Your mother?
5. Your father?
6. Your favourite?
7. Your dream last night?
8. Your favourite drink?
9. Dream/goal?
10. Virtue?
11. Hobby?
12. Fear?
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
14. Where were you last night?
15. Something that you aren't?
16. Muffins?
17. Wish list item?
18. Where you grew up?
19. Last thing you did?
20. What are you wearing?
21. TV?
22. Pets?
23. Friends?
24. Your life?
25. Your mood
26. Missing someone?
27. Car?
28. Something you're not wearing?
29. Your favourite shop?
30. Your favourite colour?
33. When is the last time you laughed?
34. Last time you cried?
35. One place that you go to over and over?
36. One person who emails you regularly?
37. Your favourite place to eat?