Alexander Averin

Friday 20 March 2009

Vernal Equinox

Dear Diary,

Pastures New
Sir James Guthrie

James Guthrie - Another artist I have discovered (Scottish). I found a little print in a charity shop and now it hangs in my study.

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.

Ezra Pound

Another Friday has hit me and unfortunately I have not blogged since the last one. Life has been a bit hectic but hopefully I will be able to do a few more posts next week. I am also starting another blog where I am going to stick a few of my photos but it is not up and running yet. I have the photography bug at the moment and M and I are going off on little outings with our cameras, He is an excellent photographer with years of experience but I am new to the game.

The Vernal Equinox or First Day of Spring has arrived and as I log on today I am reminded of this by the Google logo and very attractive it is too.

Not that I need much reminding it is Spring as today is a day full of glory, warm sunshine, hardly any wind but a definite air of optimism in the breeze. Lots of folk outside and doing and the birds too are busy as ever - best of all is the fact that the dippers are nesting under the bridge once more. I have been pottering outside myself, perhaps this is my favourite hobby and I am currently enjoying waking up the garden and planning how I am going to dress her this year. Our daffodils are just coming out; they are flowering far later than most areas as we are so behind up here in the hills. I actually bought a bunch of buds the other day and when they opened up their scent flooded the kitchen. I have never come across such smelly daffodils!

There are plenty of lambs around of course and last weekend I took a few snaps of those at my daughter and SIL’s farm. I just missed one being born but did see Mum cleaning her baby. This warm dry weather at lambing time is a blessing for the farmers.


It's going to be a big day tomorrow rugby-wise and as ever I am to be drawn in two directions as Wales are playing Ireland in Cardiff. I guess I won’t mind who wins really, but whoever loses I will feel for. Perhaps I should hope the best team on the day wins, wouldn’t that be the sensible way of looking at it? And I shall enjoy both anthems before the match.

A few quick blessings?

Singing. As when people combine their voices in an anthem, singing together can be an emotional experience. I was reminded of this one when M and I drove two of the granddaughters back home one dark evening this week - a twenty minute drive over the mountains to their farm. My car radio is de-programmed at the moment so we had to make our own music and some of the time the four of us were all singing different songs. (We are a family of eccentrics!). Then we united and sang a few of the old ones ending with the wonderful compositions from Simon and Garfunkel, a few from the Bridge over Troubled Water album. My girls are lucky in that they have grown up in a musical household as did our children and have been introduced to a lot of the ‘old stuff’ (and they love it too).

A new (American) author
that I was introduced to by my daughter who is reading her for her English degree. Grace Paley. I am hoping to read her Collected Short Stories soon.

The joy of re-discovery..

I have rediscovered one of my own much-loved poetry books Staying Alive, Real Poems for Unreal Times edited by Neil Astley. I heartily recommend it to you as it is crammed chock full of gems. You can open it anywhere and find something special. Here is one where I did just that, the book opened quite by chance at a wonderful poem by an Irish poet born in Cork.

(Oracling is another blessing sometimes).


When all this is over, said the swineherd,
I mean to retire, where
Nobody will have heard about my special skills
And conversation is mainly about the weather.

I intend to learn how to make coffee, at least as well
As the Portuguese lay-sister in the kitchen
And polish the brass fenders everyday.
I want to lie awake at night
Listening to cream crawling to the top of the jug
And the water laying soft in the cistern.

I want to see an orchard where the trees grow in straight lines
And the yellow fox finds shelter between the navy-blue trunks,
Where it gets dark early in summer
And the apple-blossom is allowed to wither on the bough.

Eilean Ni Chuilleanain

Before I go and also on the theme of Ireland I am sorry not to have posted on St Paddy’s Day. So, a little late, here is a little Irish blessing for you all that I have only just discovered.

The Blessing of Light, Rain and Earth

May the blessing of Light be on you
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
And warm your heart till it glows
Like a great peat fire, so that the stranger
may come and warm himself at it
and also a friend
And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you
Like a candle set in the windows of a house
Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the Rain be upon you, the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up
And shed their sweetness on the air
And may the blessing of the Great Rains be on you
May they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean
And leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven shines
And sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the Earth be upon you, the great round earth
May you ever have a kindly greeting for them you pass
As you're going along the roads
May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it
Tire at the end of the day
And may it rest easy over you
When at the last you lay out under it
May it rest so lightly over you
That your soul may be out from under it quickly
And up, and off, and on its way to God.

I shall have to sign off now; I have places to go and people to see,

I’d rather be blogging.

See you soon,


Friday 13 March 2009

New Discoveries

A little Breton girl.
George Clausen
(M's grandmother was one of these and probably around the same era).

I do not seek I find
Pablo Picasso

Dear Diary,

It is already Friday again.

I am going to write a few words about the blessings that are New Discoveries and how one discovery can lead to another. The first is a book that led me to an artist by the name of George Clausen. No doubt you have heard of him but I hadn’t - or maybe I had but had forgotten his name (most likely) and no doubt the artist will lead me on to other delights. I will let you know.

The book, which was published in 2001, is Now is the Time by Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and I believe it was a bestseller in Ireland some years ago. I was led to this book via an American-Irish mailing list of which I am a member. I do not live in America but somehow discovered a rather good site for all things Irish that appeal to the Irish diaspora.

As usual I digress. I receive a book list from this American site every so often - new publications - fiction and non-fiction (including poetry!) and all by Irish authors or with an Irish connection somehow. The latest email mentioned a few spiritual books by a woman called Sister Stanislaus Kennedy who grew up on the Dingle peninsula (as did my mother). I looked on Amazon and found a copy going cheap so I sent off for it and it arrived very quickly. I have only just started reading her spiritual reflections but here is a taster, a description of what the book contains.

From the back cover:

Now is the Time became an instant bestseller when it was first published, and in this expanded edition, which includes five new entries, Stan's message remains the same: we have the time, if we make the choice to take time ... Now is the Time is an inspiring book for everyone; young or old, male or female, for the converted or those who are irreligious or plain disaffected. Even people for whom a spiritual view of the world is a closed book should try opening this one. Now is the Time looks beyond the boundaries of any one faith or church and draws on the great spiritual and philosophical traditions of east and west. As Sister Stan focuses on a line of poetry from one of the world's great authors, an idea from a psychotherapist or philosopher, or a proverb from oriental wisdom, she weaves her own thoughts around them in a way that presents them afresh, and allows us to see them from a new perspective. Widely loved as a committed social activist and tireless worker on behalf of people in need, Sister Stan reveals an entirely different side of her nature - the reflective, contemplative and the spiritual – and offers us an inspiring and thought-provoking work of vision.

The book's cover is a beautiful work of art in itself. A painting by, you’ve guessed it, Sir George Clausen. I can only find the tiniest picture of it which you can see above. It is meant to be called the Haymaker but I am not so sure having looked online. It is supposed to be in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery in Dublin. I have only been to their National Gallery.

Changing the subject, but keeping the theme of discovery, the rest of this post shows photos I took of a ruined mill not far from here. I have been doing a bit of detective work for someone in the state of Utah, USA, who is researching his family tree. It’s a long story but a borrower of mine was contacted by him as he discovered her email address online (she is secretary of a local history society). She told me how he was drawing a blank on one of the properties on a census return so I got on the case as I happen to live in the same area. Anyway, to cut a long story short, a friend of mine asked someone else and a long-gone property that no-one had been able to find for this man was discovered. I took some photos last weekend and I shall email them to him along with some of the local chapel where he has many relatives buried, some in the 1800’s. No doubt when this man comes to Wales, as he is planning to, there will be a big gathering of the clans as there are still many living in these parts with the same surname!

Before I go here is a poem.

but if a living dance upon dead minds

but if a living dance upon dead minds
why,it is love;but at the earliest spear
of sun perfectly should disappear
moon's utmost magic,or stones speak or one
name control more incredible splendor than
our merely universe, love's also there:
and being here imprisoned,tortured here
love everywhere exploding maims and blinds
(but surely does not forget,perish, sleep
cannot be photographed,measured;disdains
the trivial labelling of punctual brains...
-Who wields a poem huger than the grave?
from only Whom shall time no refuge keep
though all the weird worlds must be opened?

e e cummings

So that’s all for today.
Isn’t the internet wonderful?
And aren’t new discoveries exciting as well?

Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Monday 9 March 2009

Blogger's Block

Dear Diary,

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.

Amelia Earhart

Please forgive me as I have blogger’s block today but as I haven’t posted for so long I thought I had better pen just a few words. Perhaps things will improve when the Full Moon is past, I always feel unsettled in the week leading up to it.

Life got in the way as well last week, as it often does but my worries and problems have thankfully dissipated.

So today’s will be a short one as inspiration is hard to find but there will be blessings, pictures and a wee poem of mine that I wrote last week.


Signs of spring that I noted on my walk this morning. Catkins, crocuses, daphne, lungwort, tiny daffodils coming into flower and sunshine that was doing its best to warm me in spite of the bitterness of the cold wind.

My grocery delivery. This is a new venture in these rural parts of Wales. The Asda lorry comes to the door and I am able to order online.

My new heating system is installed and will soon be up and running. Economy 10 should be working on Friday and in the long run we should be spending a lot less on keeping the cottage warm.

Book group tonight which I am looking forward to as I have enjoyed the choice this month. It is Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dickson-Wright. Although I am not a fan of all her exploits (foxhunting and hare coursing are just two examples) I found her life story a really good read. I am in that state of wanting to find another Good Read to lose myself in and will be away soon to dig one out from the big pile I always have waiting for me.

I always look forward to reading other people’s blogs as well so they are also a blessing. When my ideas run dry I can while away so much time enjoying others who seem never to have such a problem. I have not read any for a while now but I am on the case.

I shall leave you with the little poem.


It’s an umbilical cord thing,
in the sense that we are connected throughout lifetimes
(and beyond)
though our babies may have grown and flown
and may even now have children of their own.
They will come and they will go
and each parting is not remotely sweet
but rather it is sorrow

The years we held our children close and safe
enfolded in our arms
seem like a fleeting moment lost in space.
And along with pangs of labour
and the agonising throes of each ensuing birth,
why did no-one ever give us warning
of the worry and the yearning
and the lifelong pain a mother feels
that is the constant tugging
at this instrument of love we call the heart

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,