Alexander Averin

Friday 27 August 2010


Just a poem today.

Migration/Safe Home

I am often kneeling, not exactly praying
but usually dreamily weeding,
revelling in the sometimes rare delights
of another British summer
but I always 'sense' you are coming;
just minutes before you arrive
I get one of my 'flashes', it is always a thrill.
Then you swoop in succession, one by one,
over the river, into the garden
making straight for the cottage eaves.

Late in August someone said you'd gone,
they saw you all lined up, prepared to fly.

Please don’t let it be so.
I didn’t see you. Could they have been wrong?
It is too soon.

Did you leave while I was sleeping,
away from home or simply unaware?
Were you lured away like I sometimes am,
by the call of a moon?
(Do you also have affinity with stars
or was a new love dawning?)
Was it second sight, by the signs of a storm
by the fall of a leaf, or a magnetic pull
from our own Mother Earth?
Was it by whispered warning, fear of flood
or tempest, hurricane or some such tortuous weather?
Whatever it was my heart and head are hurting
as I am left alone now and never got the chance to say
‘Safe Home.‘.

I lie, bereft now, looking out on vacant nests
containing only ghost-like memories of love and sound
under quietitude and lonely, empty eaves.
You and your new broods have fled together,
heading back to somewhere vast and unbeknown to me,
to a place that must be warmer, wider and more welcoming.
Off, in high tumultuous clouds across the wildest oceans
on such precious, fragile, tiny wings you fly.
Far, far away into the hinterland.

Cait O'Connor

 Safe Home

Monday 23 August 2010

Connemara Blues

Dear Diary,

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats

I’ve changed my header picture today, I hope you like it?  It’s where I would like to be today.….in a Connemara early morning amongst all its blueness, walking with Kitty my collie by the waterside.  I remember the first time I visited Connemara on a camping holiday as a teenager and falling in love with its complete ‘unspoiltness‘, with the ponies, the coastline, the wildness and its green marble.  I remember camping there again by the sea in my twenties and bathing in the sea -  hidden amongst the rocks we found a sheltered pool, the soap wouldn’t lather but we managed to get clean.  A precious memory. Those were the days when you could strike camp almost anywhere, we travelled all round Ireland and hardly ever went to proper sites.  It rained a lot of course and I remember moving the tent round as the wind changed direction so many times. 

I love the blues in Alan Cotton’s painting, blue is such a healing colour and I have an affinity with this shade., it is after all the same blue that is found in many a colleen’s eyes.   This blue in Irish eyes has a strong gene connected to it and it has been passed down to my daughter and to all her daughters as well; people have commented on it.

It is a quiet morning here, very still and gentle with not a breath of wind -  there is a steady rain falling but it is warm one and I have just been out to feed the birds so they are happy.   My plants are enjoying the recent rainfall and have put on quite a spurt in growth which is good.

A borrower has seen a hummingbird hawkmoth locally, it has been visiting her buddleia shrub so that is exciting; we managed to identify it from a book in the library.  I’ve never seen or heard one myself. .. yet.

Talking of moths, I am not sure if I have ever mentioned The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams.  I can highly recommend this novel, give it a try, you don’t have to have an interest in the moth species, I promise.

And talking of books I have to quickly read the memoir, The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison for our Purplecoo book group.  I have avoided it because I am not in the mood for its subject matter but I must show willing and give an opinion.

A poetry book beckons too as Jo Shapcott has a new volume of poetry out called Mutability (great title).
Here is a taste of it.


This tea, this cup of tea, made of leaves,
made of the leaves of herbs and absolute
almond blossom, this tea, is the interpreter
of almond, liquid touchstone which lets us
scent its true taste at last and with a bump
in my case, takes me back to the yellow time
of trouble with blood tests, and cellular
madness, and my presence required
on the slab for surgery, and all that mess
I don't want to comb through here because
it seems, honestly, a trifle now that steam
and scent and strength and steep and infusion
say thank you thank you thank you for the then, and now

Jo Shapcott

I am so enjoying Vexed a  black comedy on TV, on BBC2 on Sunday nights - at last I have found a comedy that actually makes me laugh and smile all the way through, I suspect I may be in a minority here, it is quite dark, very un-politically correct but so very funny.  Some say the acting is bad and the humour cruel but I don’t think they ‘get it’ and personally I think the acting is excellent.  I have yet to read a good review of it but that worries me not a bit, it is my kind of humour.

But I shall end as I began with Connemara and a poem by dear old WBY.

The Fisherman

Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.   
All day I'd looked in the face   
What I had hoped it would be   
To write for my own race   
And the reality:   
The living men that I hate,   
The dead man that I loved,   
The craven man in his seat,  
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book   
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke  
Aimed at the commonest ear,   
The clever man who cries  
The catch cries of the clown, 
The beating down of the wise  
And great Art beaten down.
Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;  
And cried,
“Before I am old  
I shall have written him one   
Poem maybe as cold   
And passionate as the dawn.”

William Butler Yeats

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 18 August 2010


Dear Diary,

If I am walking with two men each of them will serve as my teacher.
I will pick out the good points of the one
and imitate them
and the bad points of the other
and correct them in myself.
Confucius (c551-478 BC)

I have to post a blog but today’s will be a mish-mash.  Just ramblings, a poem I like, a song, a picture, a quotation....

It’s Wednesday,  a no-work day and today it’s also an unexpectedly free-from-any plans-or-commitments- day, I love those kind of days best but I can’t  make up my mind what to do and the weather can’t either - whether to behave like it is still summer -  or push on with the beginnings of autumn.  The ‘A’ word is on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s writings at the moment, there is definitely something autumnal in the air.  I am a great lover of autumn but even I don’t want her to appear in August for God‘s sake.  I adore Indian summers and we had a great one last year - September and October were lovely.  Today we have had a heavy shower mid-morning and now the sun keeps peeping out and then disappearing again.  But they do say that rain is liquid sunshine don’t they?   I don’t know whether to potter in the garden or stay in and chase a few dead folk on the Ancestry site, something I love to do.

On Monday it was decidedly chilly when I woke up and so I dressed  accordingly, resigning myself to the fact that summer had passed.  We had things to do in Carmarthen and while we were there the temperature reached 27 degrees (!) but  when we arrived back at home it was very much cooler.  It is strange how the temperatures are varying so much at the moment, even within this little country.

I have the DVD of Dragon Tattoo to watch tonight so am looking forward to that.  Also have  the DVD of The Reader with Kate Winslet, somehow I missed seeing that film but a friend has recommended it.

I am now reading Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan, it was one of the TV Book Club choices on Channel 4, I’m finding it a light but enjoyable read that obviously has resonance for me and my family.  I love the short chapters which are just right when I’m feeling tired and not up to long spells of concentration.

Waiting on my bedside table are In the Kitchen by Monica Ali, a recommendation from a borrower and The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore.  Before I start one of those I have to get back to Rose Tremain’s Trespass which I have started  (it’s very good)  (I always have more than one book on the go).

So I may just curl up after lunch with a book, I am feeling kind of lazy today.  I always feel guilty reading in the daytime, I see it as a night-time things, how weird I am.  Talking of weird  M has hoovered downstairs this morning for some reason - I felt his forehead, no signs of a fever. I should have caught it on camera for you.

I promised a poem, here is one by a poet I admire, Joan McBreen.


Loss is a handkerchief on blackthorn touched with frost,
the imprint of your feet on sands you have crossed.

Loss is many stations where you waved in the rain,
the spring and summer you will not see again.

Loss is the mother calling the boy who does not reply,
is forked lightning in a summer sky.

Loss is the last page of each book loved,
is in the bedroom curtains that have not moved.

Loss is the black gabardine never returned,
it has no colour – that too is learned.

Loss is a silence you cannot forget,
is tobacco smoke recalled in the lilac garden where we met.

Joan McBreen

David Gray's new CD came out yesterday which is very exciting!   It has a lovely title -  ‘Foundling’ which reminds me I am meant to be visiting the Foundling Museum in London soon.  Would you like to hear the new single from the album?  A Moment Changes Everything - how true that can be.

Bye for now,

Monday 16 August 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Dear Diary,

I have just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, our book group’s choice for September which was picked by two of our members,  I had never got round to trying it - it was always out (!) and I was getting mixed reports from borrowers who returned the book to the library (but they were mostly very positive).

Before I picked up the Tattoo I had just finished Joseph O'Connor's Ghostlight (and I want to slip in a quick but huge recommendation for this one as his writing is just superb) but the Larsson book couldn't be more different, genre-wise.

I don’t usually go for crime fiction,  mysteries, thrillers, violence or very ‘explicit’ material and would normally avoid them like the plague. This book was all of those but much, much more and it would be fair to say that I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It took a little while to get into as I struggled a bit with its ‘Swedishness’ but I persevered (I had to) and once I was in I was well and truly hooked.   It gripped me so much that whenever I had to put it down I couldn’t wait to get back to it.  The author must have had an amazing gift for writing this sort of book, he certainly had the experience and the knowledge of the world he wrote about.   I won’t give much away in case you haven’t read it but I will say that it is tragic that Stieg Larsson died so suddenly just after handing the three books in to his publisher.  He wrote about the dark side of Swedish life and although he and his partner were said to be receiving constant death threats from extreme racist and far right-wing groups, it appears to be generally accepted that he died of a heart attack after climbing very many stairs (the lift was out of order) to hand in his finished books.

Dragon Tattoo is the first in a trilogy, namely the Millennium Trilogy and the next two titles are The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest but you really can read the first as a ‘stand-alone’ title as it ends ‘properly’ with only the characters carrying on into the next books.  I have been told by some people that the first one is not the best so I am really looking forward to numbers 2 & 3 and also to seeing the films.   Dragon Tattoo is out on DVD (I have ordered it from the library) and I believe the second is to be released in cinemas soon.

That’s all for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

PS What are you reading?

Friday 13 August 2010


I am Eve your mother and I am evolution.
Set a seed in me or about me and it will grow
with just pure belief and hardly any effort
conception can occur.
In your beginnings was a word
and for me the word was pain.
Beginnings can be slow and hesitant,
there is always a weakness born of fragility
and though your own true origins
for decades were withheld from you,
I have to say you come from fertile stock.
Baby seedlings sprout
and so quickly
plants become giants,
for they are our familiars.

Whatever they may be,
seeds of change
seeds of knowledge
or even the seeds of your dreams,
each journey began with me.

In this, your human race.
you think you have striven to learn,
progress, improve, make sense of things;

(Who are you kidding?
can you count the ways you’ve grown?).

for where lies the harvest of your fruitfulness
from my own fecundity?

In essence, do you learn from any of your soul's beginnings?

I think not.

And there’s the pity of it

Cait O’Connor

Monday 9 August 2010


Top of the Hill

Henry, Grace

Grace Henry (1868-1953) was born Emily Grace Mitchell in Aberdeen . She studied in Brussels and Paris , where she met the Irish painter, Paul Henry. They married in London in 1903, and after some years in England, moved to Achill Island in 1912. 

Grace Henry’s Top of the Hill, injected with reds and yellows, demonstrates a different interpretation to Paul Henry’s depictions of Achill life. In contrast to The Old Woman, the women in this painting appear less burdened. For a few moments, business is suspended as they enjoy the happy coincidence that finds all three assembled on the top of the hill at the same time – a chance to gossip in peace.

Dear Diary,

 How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were

Satchel Paige

There is no such thing as a coincidence, only synchronicity.  So I will start with a new discovery, hot off the press, only just unearthed (thank you dear Internet).  I had intended to put up a pic of Paul Henry's The Old Woman. I never knew Paul Henry's wife Grace was also a painter.  Can you see the similarity in style?  I am excited by this and shall be off later to seek out more such delights as the one above.  Ironically the subject is women gossiping and my post today is on a similar theme.  Not exactly gossiping but definitely three women and a man having a middle of the night chat,

I woke to a bit of a grey day and have to keep telling myself it is only August.  Still it isn’t raining so I may be able to potter in the garden this afternoon.  There is not enough colour there though, never is at this time of year so I may call at a garden centre this week to pick up some autumny flowering specimens - I was getting a few ideas in the Guardian at the weekend.

I have a poem-in-progress which I am going to post today purely to tell you how it came about.  Most poems I write just develop from a line, a word, a seed of an idea or they come to me from who knows where.  This one developed/is developing from a four-way online conversation in the wee small hours recently when I was suffering a bout of insomnia.  The chat was between two people in the UK (one was me obviously) and two in the USA.  I am in a social networking site - I hate that phrase, much prefer group of like-minded friends and no it is not Facebook,  Facebook and I don’t really gel, I don’t know why.

I digress.

We were discussing a 92 year old woman known to the other UK person, I won’t go into details as it is private stuff but it got me thinking and  a dear online friend in the USA used a word which also got me thinking. I returned to bed after an hour of chatting and sipping blueberry tea to relax me - both worked and I was soon asleep.  The next morning, while still in bed I wrote a draft of a poem.


A child again, in plaits again,
her ringlet-curls have turned to silver-white.
She’s ninety-two and nearly blind of eye,
can hardly see to read or even write.
But she has seen so many  moons
and ridden far too many storms
but settled now with much-loved cat,
a crossword, cocoa and a comfy chair
still nurtures poems in her mind.
She eats and drinks too little, sleeps a lot,
her life has reached the winter Sunday time.
Now everything is fading day by day:
her body’s clock, her strength, her sight, her memory,
her hearing and her hope sometimes
but never does her love or strength of will.
Not done it all but seen it all
she’s fairly snug and safe and (mostly) free of pain.
The hearth contains her world now and the fire her memories,
a wealth therein of earthly dreams, some lost and unfulfilled
but only precious joyous ones are dancing in its flames.
Though many friends have passed her by, gone on ahead,
she sees no sense in being sad or drifting in their wake
but wonders far too often which season’s solstice is to be her very last.
Along with recollections of her past and thoughts of future family,
she feels within her own dried-up and long-forgotten womb
the sudden quickening of death, a line break in a life,
But she is poised, rehearsed and well-prepared for casting-off;
she knows that death, like birth, is just one process leading to the next.
Eternity is beckoning and here is just a stopping-place along the way.

Cait O’Connor

That’s all for now,
Life beckons,

PS How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?

Sunday 8 August 2010

Song for a Sunday

 Mrs McGrath.

Just a song for a Sunday from the excellent Bob Springsteen Seeger Sessions, an uplifting CD if ever there was one. Play it if ever that black dog creeps in and he will soon be banished.  Not this one though, it is an anti-war song and they never disappear, I wish wars would though.

Mrs. McGrath," the sergeant said,
"Would you like a soldier
of your son, Ted?
With a scarlet cloak and a fine cocked hat,
Mrs. McGrath wouldn't you like that?"

Mrs. McGrath lived on the shore
And after seven years or more
she spied a ship come into the bay
with her son from far away

"Oh, Captain dear, where have you been.
Have you been out sailin' on the Mediteren'.
Have you any news of my son Ted.
Is he livin' or is he dead?"

Now came Ted without any legs
And in their place two wooden pegs
She kissed him a dozen times or two
Saying "My God Ted is it you?"

"Now were you drunk or were you blind
When you left your two fine legs behind?
Or was it walking upon the sea
That wore your two fine legs away?"

"No I wasn't drunk and I wasn't blind
When I left my two fine legs behind.
a cannon ball on the fifth of May
Tore my two fine legs away."

"Now Teddy boy," the widow cried
"Your two fine legs was your mother's pride
Them stumps of a tree won't do at all
Why didn't you run from the cannon ball?"

All foreign wars, I do proclaim
Live on blood and a mother's pain
I'd rather have my son as he used to be
than the king of America and his whole navy

Friday 6 August 2010

Calling Writers

My local writing group, the Irfon Valley Writers are running a creative writing competition which will be judged by the well known poet Ruth Bidgood. 

We are trying to raise funds for promotion of the arts for the children and young people in our area so please have a go and submit an entry if you can, it doesn't cost much to enter for adults and is free for under 16's.

The subject is one close to everybody's heart - it is 'Home' and is in line with this year's National Poetry Day theme.  Entries can be in short story form or a poem.

Details about how to enter and  the rules are on the right of this post.

I do hope you will have a go, there are so many excellent writers out there!.

 Good luck!


Wednesday 4 August 2010


In honour and in memory of such a treasured art,
I try my hand, I paint in oils, I sketch in pastels’ harmonies,.
I bathe in abstract colour-blocks, I swim in primaries,
I make escape in water-coloured dreams.

The pictures of my life show many hues.
My Irish blood is always rustic red,
my melancholy Celtic soul is muted blue,
the green folk, those who dwell amongst my kin
are strongly balanced, simply steadfast, made secure,
so all who dance among their calming verdancy
will feel at home, serene and sure.

There have to be some yellows, just to please
as, tinged with joyfulness, they dazzle;
and browns so warm they're silky smooth like chocolate
but sometimes turn the darkest grey,
like sludge, become immutable.

Angelic children bring a lightness in their wake,
they shine with brightness, energy and verve.
I paint them rainbowed, decked with crystals, indigoed,
for only they can lift my spirits high enough to fly
upon their favoured guardian angels’ wings.

They take me to a special place where I can find
that poet’s Irish peace which comes and drops so slow
and soothes the feeble, hopeless efforts
of a would-be artist’s, wild, enchanted heart.

Cait O’Connor

Monday 2 August 2010

Mini Monet

Dear Diary,

Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.

Claude Monet

I wish I was artistic, I can't even draw stick men properly.  I appreciate all things arty but have no ability in that direction, I often look at my favourites, the Irish artist Paul Henry's paintings and try to imagine how he has created the clouds for example and think I may have a go one day.  I am often tempted to try abstract paintings in blocks of colour as sometimes I feel the need - perhaps I am in need of the qualities of particular colours in my life at certain times.  I do believe in colour therapy, I always wear red shoes, it's an energy thing!

I love impressionist paintings and I have to thank a fellow blogger, Bouddica for introducing me to the boy they are calling Britian’s Mini Monet.

 Kieron Williamson is just seven years old and here are some examples of his work.  When I first saw them all I could say was ‘Wow’.  They are amazing in the true sense of the word because they have been created by a child but they would be outstanding even if an adult had painted them.  Kieron lives in Norfolk which is a part of the UK that has influenced many painters, perhaps it is something to do with the vast skies and the quality of the light there.  But Kieron has surely been born with a precious gift.

This is the young lad's website:

If you were a colour, what would you be?

That's all,
Bye for now,