Alexander Averin

Saturday 31 October 2009

The Veil

Dear Diary,

It Is Samhain, the end of Summer and the end of the Celtic Year. This word has been hijacked and is now in English Halloween. (All Hallows Eve). I do prefer Samhain, it has a beauty to it, it is soft and gentle while Halloween is too harsh for me. I just love words, they are like food to me and when I am in the dreaming stage or in the actual process of writing a poem the desire for words is like a hunger and finding the right ones is satisfying that need.

It is the time today when the Veil between our worlds, ours and the one our ancestors inhabit is the thinnest and spiritual communication can pass back and forth. I shall not write of ghoulies and ghosties but you can read my own personal ghost story on an older posting of mine - just type in ghost in the search engine on the right and you can read of my own true experience. Do leave a comment. I would do a link but I fear it may not work.

I have always been aware of spirits, my earliest experience began when I was six years old which was when my (lost) mother passed from this world. My mother and I were actually inescapably and tragically parted even earlier when I was a toddler but she has never been lost to me though as she always sits at my shoulder, she whispers to me and I can feel her sweet softness. Sometimes she strokes my shoulder everso gently. She has been a guiding hand all my life and I ‘take her instructions’ as it were. She has also communicated with others in my family. So I have lived with reassurance all my life and do not fear death. You don’t have to believe me, I am not worried about that. The world is full of sceptics.

I have other experiences too; angels send me white feathers when I am in need and we have an antique clock in our little snug which chimes only very occasionally and always when there is something going on, some trouble or worry in the family. Sometimes I walk through the little room and it will chime as I leave and sometimes it will do so in the middle of the night. I know our loved ones are not lost and that they are waiting behind the veil of invisibility, there where God or the Light is, in truth and in eternity, a forever land which is just biding its time as we learn our own particular lessons here on Earth. It is a time for remembering the departed, those who have given up their earthly clothing and a time for welcoming all spirits, even those yet to be born .

A time for sweet foods too, so that is a cause for celebration in itself. I will make do with feasting on fudge and bowl(s) of pancakes with ice cream; it is strange but I have such a sweet craving today. I cannot eat chocolate because it has started to give me migraines again so I have resorted to buying myself fudge; it is delicious though and gives much needed energy which is a bonus. I hide it away from the chocolate eaters in the household though, it is mine, all mine!

And now as Winter comes in it is a time for Rest, Renewal and Planning.

I love all those things.

Happy Samhain to you,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

PS Today's Samhain poem can be found on the previous post.

Friday 30 October 2009


Halloween began in Ireland as Samhain and I shall write some more about that tomorrow but for now I am going to post a goodnight blessing from the late John O’ Donohue.

God rest his soul, he is very much missed.

But he is still with us.

On Passing a Graveyard

May perpetual light shine upon
The faces of all who rest here.

May the lives they lived
Unfold further in spirit.

May the remembering earth
Mind every memory they brought.

May the rains from the heavens
Fall gently upon them.

May the wildflowers and grasses
Whisper their wishes into the light.

May we reverence the village of presence
In the stillness of this silent field.

John O’ Donohue

Thursday 29 October 2009

Monty Don

Dear Diary,

The Solitary Digger Paul Henry

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This was going to be a rant.

I was going to blog  at length today about the NHS, about the daylight robbery that is the cost of parking In English hospitals (£9.50 yesterday for a stay of just over five hours). I was going to blog about the abysmal state of our NHS, the bad management, (the over-management). The waiting around without any information, the too many people walking round with bits of paper, the patronising attitude of some local practice nurses and radiographers, the groups of hospital nurses standing round talking while people are suffering…..stop me now.  I write as an ex-nurse and I know  there are many angels in the medical profession but not all are by any means. 

Of course it's not all bad.  I have so much  and so many people in the service to praise and may blog about them one day but I hear the horror stories on a regular basis now.

Rant over.

For reading a gem of a book in bed this morning has put me in a better frame of mind. Thank you Monty.

I just have to recommend this book to you if  you are even only slightly into gardening.
I mentioned it in an earlier blog ,  I was looking forward to reading it but was still only at the drooling stage.

Now I am about half way through.

I have read Monty Don’s books before because he is a lovely man and a good writer.  When someone’s writing is true and comes from the heart doesn’t it show?  I borrowed this copy of The Ivington Diaries from the library but I would love to own it and it would make a great Christmas present.

Many books can make you feel inadequate when you read them; many gardening and cookbooks often come into that category.  They are not inspiring then are they?  Monty writes with honesty and admits that there are days when he cannot garden, days when life and all its foibles gets in the way.  And he is honest about not doing all the work himself, his wife helps, his children help and he employs staff who he obviously appreciates and acknowledges their input.  So many people have fantastic magazine worthy gardens but never do a stroke of work in them themselves apart from a few cosmetic touches or the design.   But Monty works hard in the garden too and shows how it was started from absolute scratch.  I know Ivington as we toured the area when we were on my husband’s genealogy trail so that makes it even more close to home - it is not that far away.

It is not just about gardening.  It is laced with wisdom and the spirituality of  his natural surroundings shines through. And he mentions his pets and local people.   And good old common sense, useful tips and photos to drool over, Monty has an artistic eye for photography too.  I wish it was Spring because he has made me want to be out planning  and gardening myself. 

I haven’t checked if they have the same publisher but it is produced in the same format as Nigel Slater’s cookbooks (like the Kitchen Diaries and his latest one).  Nigel Slater is another man I admire so if you are looking for foody-book-type Christmas presents he is another author I would recommend. 

(I can’t believe it but I have just been guilty of mentioning the dreaded C word in October!.)

I will report back on The Ivington Diaries when I have read more as no doubt there are more treasures within its pages still to uncover.

And now for something completely different.  I have to leave you with a poem, for more distraction I read this poem this morning and will share it with you.

The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as freelances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

 -- Louis MacNeice

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Tuesday 27 October 2009


Dear Diary,

Just two of my favourite pics for you.
I adore harebells, they always appear at the end of summer.

Katherine Mansfield by Anne Estelle Rice

It’s a read-one-get-one-free day as I have posted two blogs for you - if you go to my other blog
Cait’s Photos you will see just a wee poem and a few photos I took yesterday on my morning walk in the garden and the field.

This year has flown - a really bad cliché for which I apologise.

October will soon be leaving us; she has been such a welcome guest this year, perfectly behaved, undemanding of my time garden-wise (the weeds seem to have gone to sleep already), no stormy outbursts or great floods of tears, and for me her stay has passed all too quickly.  She blessed us with endless dry spells, much needed sunshine, occasional morning and night frosts and her most beauteous gift of all, the show to beat all shows  - her morning mists in the valleys.

She tempted me outside more often than not and made my heart sing but as always happens during her stay, the dark evenings descend -  the human’s clock has fallen backwards now, an unsettling time for me and I ask again, is there still a need for this fiddling with the 24 hours by which we are ruled?  I was really tired on Saturday night and went to bed early but even on Sunday night I was tired again at 8 pm, my body thought it was nine.

November will arrive very soon and I am hard pushed to welcome him (why is this month masculine in my imagination?).  I shall try to be positive and think of his good aspects, log fires, comfort foods, layers of clothes, all things cosy really.  But I know the dreaded C word will be on everyone’s lips and this always throws me into a bit of a depression, as does Christmas itself.  The day itself is bearable when it comes but the whole season and the far too early over-hyped lead up to it with its other C word Consumerism, as well as other more personal reasons, make it for me a sad time.

January is a looked-forward-to-month, he is also male but he lifts me up again as I love new beginnings and challenges, resolutions and the like and lists, all things clean and new. There may be snowed-in days and the magical beauty they bring and there is always Spring not too far away.

Today though, October is as warm and sunny as summer and I am loath to be indoors - I have just walked the dogs in the field and really should be outside gardening or even 'just sitting' but I have lots do on the computer.  But thank you October for making this autumn as colourful and as beautiful as you have done. I have the rest of the week off and please God you will keep up this fine weather until you disappear to who knows where for another year.  And on Saturday, your final day with us, there will be a joyful celebration for it will be Halloween, the day when the veil between this world and the Other is the thinnest,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 23 October 2009

Saturday 17 October 2009

Too many books, too little time

Dear Diary,

You can never have too much garlic, too much chocolate or too much sleep but can you have too many books? (No!).

I wrote very recently about the wonderful book that is Home by Marilynne Robinson and since then several kind people have recommended her other book Gilead which kind of goes with it as the subject matter is written alongside Home. I wouldn’t say you had to read Home first, it wouldn’t matter which you began with. I have almost finished Gilead and it is also a great a book in fact Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with it.

I have also got her first novel Housekeeping which was very highly recommended by the book group member who suggested Home. This is a short novel written a good many years ago and l can’t wait to read it. But which book shall I read first?

It’s like buses, they all come at once. I have suddenly been inundated with new books to read - all requests from the excellent library service of course. What have I got?

John Banville’s The Infinities
William Trevor’s Love and Summer
Martin Sixsmith’s The Lost Child of Philomena Lee (the subject of which is too close to my heart).
Penelope Lively’s Family Album

In non-fiction I know I shall drool over Monty Don’s The Ivington Diaries. (M has an ancestor from Ivington which is a coincidence).
I also have Virginia Ironside’s The Virginia Monologues about the joys of ageing - I think I could write my own though!

And another joy to look forward to - I have treated myself and ordered a new book from Ireland - it has contributions from many well known poets - see below for details.

The Great Irish Book Week takes place from Saturday the 24th to Saturday the 31st October 2009. Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it, edited and compiled by Salmon Poetry managing editor Jessie Lendennie and published by Salmon earlier this year, has been selected as one of the 30 Great Irish Books featured during Great Irish Book Week.

So let it rain, I won’t mind as I can curl up with a book.


We drink a lot of Yorkshire tea in this house.

A carpet of pink rose petals greeted me on the path this morning as I went out to feed the rose bushes with my old teabags - I read somewhere that as well as coffee grounds, roses like tea and they certainly seem to be doing well on it. I am still deadheading and they are rewarding me with lots of blooms.

Autumn and all it means. I have blogged about this many times and every year it is always the same so I won’t repeat myself but I have to say that these last few weeks have been perfect weather for me - I am not a summer sun worshipper - and I have appreciated the October frosts, the sunny days and of course the mists in the valleys. Sometimes I think I prefer autumn to summer, it seems that way after the miserable July and August we had this year here in Wales.

I had a message left on my answer phone yesterday by a dear friend that I have never met, it was a real surprise and so lovely to hear her voice. (We met up on Purplecoo).

Weekends. Don’t they come round quickly? I don’t mind though as they are special aren’t they and even if I have to work for half of every Saturday I always love Sundays. I hope you have a good one.

Before I leave you I would like to share a poem written by Dorothy Molloy, a great Irish poet who sadly died this year after a short illness.

The golden retriever grieves for her mate

The hooded crows roost early now,
November trees are black.
The sun goes down at 4 p.m.
and leaves a blood-stained track.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

We calm her with valerian
and drops of chamomile,
infuse the roots of heliotrope
to soothe her for a while.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

His last night was a rasping breath
that laboured up the stairs
and filled the house, and lodged behind
her sleepless eyes and ears.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

She leans her head against our knees,
she follows us to bed
and lies stretched out upon the floor
as if she, too, were dead.

My antelope, my darling, my gazelle.

Copyright © The estate of Dorothy Molloy, 2009

Dorothy Molloy was born in Ballina, Co. Mayo in 1942. She studied languages at University College Dublin, after which she went to live in Madrid and Barcelona. During her time in Spain, she worked as a researcher, as a journalist and as an arts administrator. She also had considerable success as a painter, winning several prizes and exhibiting widely. After her return to Ireland in 1979, she continued painting but also began writing poetry.

Her first collection, Hare Soup, was accepted by Faber and Faber, but Dorothy contracted cancer and died ten days before its publication. The papers she left after her death contained enough unpublished poems for two further books, which have been assembled by her husband, Andrew Carpenter. The first of these posthumous collections, Gethsemane Day, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. This volume, Long-distance Swimmer, is the final collection of her work.
Salmon Poetry, Knockeven,
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Thursday 8 October 2009

National Poetry Day

Dear Diary,

Anyone else watching Criminal Justice? I don't know why I put myself through such agony every night but I have started so I shall have to finish and watch two more episodes even though something tells me it is going to get much much worse.

Just a quick post today before I go off to work - it is National Poetry Day after all so I feel obliged to post a wee poem; here is my latest piece of homework for my writing group.

Enjoy the day and do seek out a poem for there are many treasures out there.


One room contains him now
along with his commode,
his trouser press,
closet and chiffonier.
Tired of television and reading books on Hannibal,
he sits alone by the secretaire
and writes out his memoirs,
a transcript of a life that’s draining away,
somewhere down life’s plughole.
He mulls a lot on its proverbial depths
and other such foolish factors
yet still has faith in all his dreams
knowing there is richness enough
in profits from pastimes,
past periods of peace,
past friends,
past loves
and memories.
The third age crept up on him
but was welcomed like a new friend,
a true one,
honest and entirely straight,
its outstretched hand leading him gently to the end.
or rather to a passing-out, a returning to a light,
the home from whence he came.

Cait O’Connor

Sunday 4 October 2009

Thursday 1 October 2009


Dear Diary,

I think it would be a good idea.

Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization
1869 - 1948)
It would have been Gandhi's birthday today, I found it hard to pick a quote by him as there are so many absolute gems. There is to be a programme about his life on TV this weekend. That I must not miss.

I have a feast of books to read at the moment and as the hibernation season is not too far off I am looking forward to cosy days and nights of self-indulgence when I can curl up round the hearth or snuggle down under the duvet and simply lose myself. You can see what awaits me on my bedside table in the side panel of this blog. I am only too happy to escape the world sometimes, especially when I accidentally catch the TV news (I have in fact given up watching it).

I have just finished reading Home by the American writer Marilynne Robinson for our book group and I am very grateful to the group member who suggested it. If you haven’t read it, it is one of those titles that I would force upon you. I have been more than touched by it, it has left me with a chasm of sadness, a deeply felt sorrow for all the characters within its pages. Yet still I urge you to read it because it is brilliant and it will set you thinking.

When I began the book I thought Oh my God this is so slow - I don’t mind a slow pace, don’t get me wrong but this seemed painstakingly so. But I gradually got into it and adapted to its pace, I began to love it and in a strange way I felt myself become part of the home about which Marilynne was writing, it was quite a weird feeling - it seemed as if I too was a member of the family and was emotionally involved. It did make me weep and I know I am not the only one. This woman is a writer of very high calibre. Somewhere I read in a review that her prose has a musical quality, I understand what they mean; it is not exactly poetic prose or even lyrical but it has a steady rhythm and a beautiful melody within it. I am going to read her other titles Gilead and Housekeeping and will report back on those.

I have treated myself to the new book, the volume of poems which is Echoes of Memory by the dear, departed and very much missed John O’Donohue, I also bought a copy for my sister for her birthday, I hope she will love it. Here is a poem by him, not one from his new collection but one I hope you will appreciate.

John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry, [TRADITION SUB2] poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry

Original Language


When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The ride you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

John O'Donohue

-- from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue

I have even more to look forward to. David Gray’s new CD Draw the Line is on its way to me in the post as is Mark Knopfler’s CD Get Lucky.

So life is good, I can read and listen to music in the background. I can also write along to music, do you ever do that? What do you listen to?

And what are you reading at the moment? Do tell.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,