Alexander Averin

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Turning the Corner

Turning the Corner

As she settles in for sleep she remembers the words of the clairvoyant as she scried in her crystal ball.
She told her she could see barriers around her heart, shutting out her need for love……….

Even in a dream it takes her by surprise,
such an old but pretty gate, quite small,
wreathed in scrolls of heavy iron,
their Celtic spiral patterns painted black as night.
The gate is tightly shut but able to be opened
if she would only try.

Belief helps her open it,
trust takes her through it,
relief is there to greet her at the other side
where she feels strangely safe.

On a bright pathway
strewn with coloured blossoms
fear takes its flight,
till she feels strangely light.

As she turns the corner
she does not look back
but only forward, led by hope 
to a place where peace can take her hand
and bring to her a heart where love lies,
between the arms of stillness and serenity.

Cait O’Connor

Sunday 27 March 2011

Too much light and shade perhaps

 Dear Diary,

I am a little out of sync. today as I hate it when the clocks change, it affects me for weeks.  I shall be 'one hour out'  for too long a while and then when I am fully adjusted they will change the damned things back again.  Why can't they leave them alone?

I love daydreaming and my (new) beautiful header pic was topping an article in Saturday's Guardian so I thought I would post it here.  It got me dreaming about dreaming..... I do a lot of it: staring into space etc. I have always done this and I also love studying clouds by day and the skies at night and the river as it flows.  Birdwatching takes up much time here too.  I suppose it's meditation.

Has anyone else been watching the fantastic Danish crime serial The Killing?  It has been unmissable; the best thing on TV as far as I am concerned and though it has been dark, in more ways than one, it has really brightened Saturday nights TV-wise.  Everyone is saying that it puts British drama in the shade. (Too many mixed-up light and shade references here, sorry).  It was the last episode in the current series last night but still left me with much to think about.  I had to read something 'light' (sorry I am at it again) in bed before going to sleep because I think I would have been kept awake still wondering or perhaps I would have had bad dreams.   I had better not give anything away in case you haven't seen it and you watch it in the future but it did fiercely bring home to me how one killing can affect the lives of so many.  Can ruin the lives of so many.  That of course applies not only to murder but also to war.  Are the two (too) closely related I wonder?

To lighten the tone here is the best Dreamy song I know, written by Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks who by chance also featured in the Guardian yesterday.  I was planning to feature a piece of music by The Shadows as Jet Harris died recently, God rest him, I shall do that another day.

I'm off to take some air now; unfortunately the sun hasn't got his hat on yet, unlike yesterday when he paraded all day and all was bright!

But I must eave you with a poem by the great Wallace Stevens.

Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly

Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:

To think away the grass, the trees, the clouds,
Not to transform them into other things,
Is only what the sun does every day,

Until we say to ourselves that there may be
A pensive nature, a mechanical
And slightly detestable operandum, free

From man's ghost, larger and yet a little like,
Without his literature and without his gods . . .
No doubt we live beyond ourselves in air,

In an element that does not do for us,
so well, that which we do for ourselves, too big,
A thing not planned for imagery or belief,

Not one of the masculine myths we used to make,
A transparency through which the swallow weaves,
Without any form or any sense of form,

What we know in what we see, what we feel in what
We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,
In the tumult of integrations out of the sky,

And what we think, a breathing like the wind,
A moving part of a motion, a discovery
Part of a discovery, a change part of a change,

A sharing of colour and being part of it.
The afternoon is visibly a source,
Too wide, too irised, to be more than calm,

Too much like thinking to be less than thought,
Obscurest parent, obscurest patriarch,
A daily majesty of meditation,

That comes and goes in silences of its own.
We think, then as the sun shines or does not.
We think as wind skitters on a pond in a field

Or we put mantles on our words because
The same wind, rising and rising, makes a sound
Like the last muting of winter as it ends.

A new scholar replacing an older one reflects
A moment on this fantasia. He seeks
For a human that can be accounted for.

The spirit comes from the body of the world,
Or so Mr. Homburg thought: the body of a world
Whose blunt laws make an affectation of mind,

The mannerism of nature caught in a glass
And there become a spirit's mannerism,
A glass as warm with things going as far as they can.

Wallace Stevens

Happy Sunday to you all,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Monday 21 March 2011

It has to be a quick blog

Listening to: Adele’s 21 Album.
Thinking about: the problems in the world.
Feeling: sad about the problems in the world.
Dreaming of: a perfect garden.

Dear Diary,

I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy.... If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.  
Sir George Porter

At the start of spring—the vernal equinox—day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.

It is a special time of course, the Spring Equinox was yesterday. It was 15 degrees today and sunny even though the weather forecasters said Wales would be cloudy.  Seems like nothing can be relied upon these days.  At least the sunshine and the abundance of yellow daffodils is cheering everyone up.

I have not been lucky enough to see the Super Moon, it has been covered in cloud every night.

I worked hard in the garden today starting my yearly battle with the cursed ground elder.  To reward myself I visited the garden centre and treated myself to an angel statue, a birthday present to me in  advance……. I got the price reduced as the poor wee thing had damaged toes on one of his feet.  I also bought a  large pink David Austin shrub rose, well it will be five feet tall when it grows….both of these will go in a circular bed in my back garden.  I found a witches ball in a local antique centre last week, it is made of a gorgeous deep blue coloured glass, that will go at the feet of my angel.  The person who served me in the antique shop asked me what I was going to do with the witches ball (fishing to see if I was a witch perhaps?) and I told her I was going to put it in my garden.  She said my garden sounded interesting.  I wish…….

I also bought some winter pansies and violas (violae?) for my baskets to replace those bought just before the Big Freeze which disintegrated in the many minus 18 degrees of frost days.

Just a quick blog tonight as someone else wants to get on to the computer (!) and  I need to get to bed soon for an early night as I am back to work tomorrow.

I will return on another day with pics of my new acquisitions.

Off to bed now with Colm Toibin, 

Nos Da,


Wednesday 16 March 2011

St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's Day Dreaming

On a St Patrick's Day's morning
I can only dream myself home
back to that Irish mountain's precious stream
amongst carpets of sweet celandine
with purple violets at their edge,
peeping shyly, hiding coyly
 and so timid in their beauty.

Daffodils, full-on bright yellow,
  not the least bit bashful,
compete with primroses
along the river’s bank.

And all around is greening
and every plant and shrub is budding,
simply bursting into life.

And all the while the river sings her song
and birds join in the chorus as she flows.

And I detect a brightness in the tune,
a tinkling sound of joy rings in its melody,
as if the whole of Nature loves an Irish Spring
and all can feel God’s beauty in its midst.

Cait O'Connor

And just for you on this special day here is a poem by the late John O'Donohue, one I have posted before but make no apologies for doing so again.


On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue
(From his book Echoes of Memory)
And here is an extra treat, an interview which took place in 2005 with dear John O'Donohue, God rest his soul.

On Beauty.
Click on the link below.

(Pic by Barrie Maguire)

Tuesday 15 March 2011

The Ides of March

Dear Diary,

Paradise starts with the love we show each other here on earth.

Four-month old baby rescued

There seems to be so much unrest in many places in the world of late.  People are roused and are rising as one against oppression in more than one country, this can only be a good thing but so dangerous.  When bad things happen I  always think of the saying You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and I can’t help feeling that we are entering a period of great change.  We can only hope and pray that all will be well in the end.

Even the Earth is reflecting this unrest with so many earthquakes of late.  Yesterday a blogger I follow, Decadent Housewife, alerted readers to this blog written by a woman living in Japan.   I read it before I went to bed last night and it really brought me close in to Sue’s life (and her family and friends) who are luckily alive but living now with shortages of every kind and most dreadful of all on top of the shock of the earthquake and the tsunami are suffering the heightened fear of radioactive fallout.  I read back through Sue’s postings before the earthquake and tsunami struck the people of Japan and it was, much like ours, filled with the everyday and  you could say but only in hindsight, rather mundane matters.

My heart goes out, a cliché I know but it does, especially to all the bereaved; there will be many orphans and many who have lost children.  Am I the only one in that I almost feel a sense of voyeuristic guilt watching the film footage taken by onlookers of the tsunami as it struck and I wonder how people had the calm presence of mind to film it (they must have been up high surely?).  I get rather annoyed with journalists who keep commenting on the huge number of cars strewn about - the number of cars shocked me, they typify our dependence on them and how they pollute in more ways than one.  James Naughtie on Radio 4’s Today was waxing rather too lyrically about the cars, saying they would not see the light of day again - I found this rather insulting in the light of the numbers of human lives lost.

Watching the news from Japan I am lost for words and have been quiet for a few days, wanting to blog about it but hardly knowing how to express my sadness and my sympathy for the Japanese people.  I am glad that our local Mid Wales Search and Rescue Firemen are going out to help.

Sue gives this wise advice, something we all hear and say over again but too soon forget.

Make the most of the present. 

Live in each moment.

The present is indeed our gift and we should treat it as such, savouring each one and the next that is soon to be upon us and enjoying every aspect of life which is really so short and meant to be good; dispelling negativity and dwelling on the positive blessings.  I often wake in the small hours unable to get back to sleep; I usually start ruminating and worry often dominates my thoughts, they enlarge at this time of day, I know not why.  When I woke this morning at 4 am I deliberately set out to think only of blessings and it was incredible the numbers there are, they are endless really. 

As I sit here at the computer I can start counting blessings again: my hands, my ability to type and spell and read and write, the computer itself, the internet, the view from my window, my cottage, my animals beside me, two dogs and a cat, music playing.  Time off work,  I am feeling better, the daffodils are coming out, I have good things to look forward to, books to read, places to go, plants, birds, warmth, clothes, food, peace, photographs, my camera, blogs, email messages,……   I will stop but I could go on all day really and I haven’t mentioned the most important blessings of all, my children, grandchildren, other family and dear friends.

The Dalai Lama got it right when he said Only Kindness Matters. The pictures from Japan should bring home to us the fragility of materialism and that what really matters are people and the love that we can give to each other (and the Earth).

In one of your moments do send out a prayer for Sue and all the Japanese people,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Friday 11 March 2011

pay attention: a river of stones

From small stones a book has been produced.  This is how it began with the words of writer Fiona Robyn.

Fiona Robyn is on a mission to help people connect with the world through writing. She is a novelist, a blogger, a creativity coach and a Buddhist. She writes a weekly inspirational newsletter & runs e-courses. She started writing small stones in '05, launched a handful of stones in '08, & started a river of stones with her fiancé Kaspa in '11. She is very fond of Earl Grey tea and homemade cake, her cats Fatty and Silver, & the lovely Malvern hills (which she can gaze at from her home office window). 
This is how  it began. Fiona's words:

If you’d like to feel more at home with yourself and with the world, then you’re in the right place. Write small stones. You don’t need any previous experience of writing or any special equipment. You just need to notice one thing properly every day & then write it down.

Pay attention: a river of stones.

This is a book I shall be ordering and I would like to recommend it to you. The excellent idea was spawned by Fiona Robyn and I am pleased that there may be a future collaboration.  I think I shall try and write something myself  if possible; I have no excuses as I am lucky enough to live beside a river of stones.

Below is a little interview I had with Fiona's partner about the book..

For those who have not heard of this creative writing project can you tell people a little about it?

Years ago Fiona started writing small stones - one per day. A few lines of writing based on an observation in the world. She's been encouraging people to write them for a while and has an e-zine at Towards the end of last year we saw the potential of using writing small stones to encourage people to really connect with the world - to really pay attention.

Somehow the idea of encouraging people to write one small stone a day for the month of January entered the conversation and a river of stones was born. We had lots and lots of people taking part, all over the world, and received lots of lovely comments and emails. When we started to see how many people we writing, and how many people were writing well - we had the idea to collate lots of our favorites in to a book.

Was it relatively easy to self-publish? Would you recommend this route to others?
We  received  submissions all through the month of  February, more than three thousand pieces of writing, (most only a few lines long). About once a week, we'd print a batch out, sit down together and read through each one. We chose based on what fitted the 'form' of a small stone: how observational was the writing? occasionally we suggested edits to create a stone that was more focused on the world, than on the writers experience of themselves, or ask contributors about repeating words, or capitalization.
This meant that not long after our submission deadline we knew what was going in. We'd also collected and written some prose pieces. We then worked in to the night for a couple of days, creating the order of the chapters and so on, creating the documents in the correct format. It helped that Fiona had used lulu before to publish and had book templates on hand.

I designed the cover and the insides of the book, and we had to proof read everything ourselves.  I know some writers who publish with 'small press' publishers and although much of the support, in terms of editing, is much less than it used to be, you still do get your manuscript read by a professional, and a cover designed and typeset. And depending on the size of the publisher they often have different routes to sales than an individual might have.
I think if you are writing something very specialist, and you want to create a hard-copy for yourself and people who might be interested in that area then print-on-demand is not a bad way to go. But it does take time and energy. On the other hand you can end up with something really beautiful at the end of the process.

I do hope the River will keep flowing. Will there be any future editions?
The main focus of the River was never the book for us, although recently it became an all consuming process. What is central is encouraging people to go into the world and really pay attention,  to see and hear and smell the things we usually miss, the wildflowers growing in the cracks in the pavement and so on. 
We're going to run the river again in July 2011 asking people to observe and write one thing down each day.
About half way through the process of reading submissions, sitting in a local coffee-shop, we talked about how much work the book had been and how we'd love to do something 'low maintenance' in July. I'm going to have another go at collating .rss feeds of people's blogs (the technology failed me in January) so that we have a webspace where anyone can log on and see the river. As I said I tried that this year with the Yahoo! Pipes widget and it only worked intermittently.

We're both away in July as well, in the second week we're running our 'Connecting with Others' workshop in France, a week long workshop using writing, and using psychical theatre to connect with the world.
After July? Who knows.... Next year maybe...

Remind us how we can buy copies of the book.
Currently available to download, in paperback and hardback at - soon to be available at Amazon. Watch this space.

Monday 7 March 2011

Her New Beau

A chameleon does not leave one tree until he is sure of another

Arabian Proverb

Her New Beau

Sometimes she wonders if it is kind to keep him in a jar
as he surely has a brain,
a rarity in these no-brain  parts.
She has always attracted these reptilian males
but this one popped up spilling culture
from his wide, reptilian mouth.
He is, after all, a Guardian reader,
a slow and gently creeping thing, ophidian
and his eyes are not too bulgy,
a rarity in these bulging-eye infested parts.
An intellectual reptile, both hard to say and to believe,
he will readily cosy up and chat to old ladies
who are shrivelled up and just as unattractive as he
but they do say affinity breeds kind deeds.
His warm, slow breath is always light;
no wild, Welsh dragon, heavy-breather of the fire is he
(and between you and me there are far too many of those
 in these heavy-breathing parts).
He cuts quite the fine dash in his suit of green
and his wrap-around vermilion scarf
and she is secretly charmed by his un-croaky
but not quite tipping-into-velvet voice.
They both want the same things from life:
warmth, enough food, drink in moderation
and plenty of loving attention.
She hopes this one will not be another chameleon
but still she wonders,
is it really kind to keep him in a jar?

Cait O’Connor

Saturday 5 March 2011

Tree of Life

Tree of Life Gustav Klimt

Genealogy Days

Perhaps it was because I had no roots at all, I took to
playing keenly and too well the generation game;
making myself at home in others’ times,
playing the extra’s part in others’ live-in history.
Chasing the dead, feeling joy but also others’ pain,
treading with care when walking in another’s shoes,
spying on the secrets and the sorrows from their past.

Detection is not easy but persistence pays me well
through the many hours of boredom, sweat and toil
but finding folk is like a fever breaking.
Consanguinity, linking life to life,
creating a wider, ever-spreading family tree,
beginning with paternity and maternity,
growing a tree of linkage, lineage and heredity,
attaining a sense of place,
gaining an identity.

Cait O’Connor

Wednesday 2 March 2011

March Ramblings

Dear Diary,

It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.
J. Krishnamurti

It has been too long since my last posting so I can only offer many apologies. I have been suffering from a berludy virus that is doing the rounds.  I am still not fully better so bear with me, I am a wee bit fragile.  I had a break of fever in the night and felt so much better, so much so that I got up for an hour and checked emails etc while supping on ginger tea.

What am I doing now? Very little, keeping warm having dosed myself with strong analgesics, cough mixture and herbal teas.  I am trying to avoid going t o the GP and going down the antibiotic route.


Radio 4.  How could I live without it?

The  book programme at 6.30 pm on BBC2 every evening with Anne Robinson (don’t worry, she  has softened and is excellent in this, she has also apologised to the Welsh!).  She and Chris Evans also made a fantastic case against closing libraries on TV recently so both have gone up in my estimation.

A ‘comforter’ which I bought in a lovely craft shop in a  local market town recently.  It is Fairtrade, made in Nepal and just the thing for my sore throat.  It is knitted in multicolour; turquoise, rusty red, burgundy, greens and  dark pinks.   I am a firm believier in colour healing. It is also very soft and soothing to my neck and throat., if I had the energy I would photograph it for you.

The weather is also comforting me, it is bright and blue. cloudless and sunny (!), as it was yesterday for St David’s Day.  The sky was a mass of blue then too which made the day special.  I spotted several children in national costume which was sweet.   The yellow sun here in Wales made up for the lack of daffodils in my garden  which  are nowhere near out yet.  I have instead bought some wee pots of the lovely dwarf varieties and they are very cheering.  Yellow is the perfect colour to lift us from winter blues.

A new magazine to get lost in.

Some new books ordered from the library:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog., Muriel Barbery
Life in a Cottage Garden, Carol Klein
Stranger in the Mirror, Jane Shilling.
Life Alignment, Philippa Lubbock
A Discovery of Witches, Deborah E Harkness
Bird Cloud, Annie Proulx
21 golden rules for cosmic ordering, Barbel Mohr
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

A no-work today day luckily.

A poem is brewing in me, a line came to me during the night.

I made a breakthrough in my husband’s genealogy trail yesterday when I  found  a relative in France, thanks to the Ancestry website.

The birds in my garden, better than TV sometimes, I could watch them for hours.

My daphne is flowering, its colour is a perfect mauve.

I am soon going to make a big pot of spicy and  hopefully curing, vegetable soup.   I had a very tasty bowl of spiced parsnip soup in the aforementioned craft shop last week, very spicy indeed, just how I like it.  And along with most delicious home-made bread it was delicious.

March is underway, thank God.  A friend and I have come to an agreement, we would like to abolish two months from the calendar and they are December (my number one hate it is so stressful, pressured and I hate it!) and also February as most folk are a tad depressed, exhausted, or are suffering from some virus or possibly all three.

But now the only way  is up and

(wait for it a cliché  is coming)

Spring is just around the corner……………………..

But just before I go here is  a newly discovered poem by Elizabeth Bishop.

The End Of March


It was cold and windy, scarcely the day
to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken,
seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore wind
numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.

The sky was darker than the water
--it was the color of mutton-fat jade.
Along the wet sand, in rubber boots, we followed
a track of big dog-prints (so big
they were more like lion-prints). Then we came on
lengths and lengths, endless, of wet white string,
looping up to the tide-line, down to the water,
over and over. Finally, they did end:
a thick white snarl, man-size, awash,
rising on every wave, a sodden ghost,
falling back, sodden, giving up the ghost...
A kite string?--But no kite.

I wanted to get as far as my proto-dream-house,
my crypto-dream-house, that crooked box
set up on pilings, shingled green,
a sort of artichoke of a house, but greener
(boiled with bicarbonate of soda?),
protected from spring tides by a palisade
of--are they railroad ties?
(Many things about this place are dubious.)
I'd like to retire there and do nothing,
or nothing much, forever, in two bare rooms:
look through binoculars, read boring books,
old, long, long books, and write down useless notes,
talk to myself, and, foggy days,
watch the droplets slipping, heavy with light.
At night, a grog a l'américaine.
I'd blaze it with a kitchen match
and lovely diaphanous blue flame
would waver, doubled in the window.
There must be a stove; there is a chimney,
askew, but braced with wires,
and electricity, possibly
--at least, at the back another wire
limply leashes the whole affair
to something off behind the dunes.
A light to read by--perfect! But--impossible.
And that day the wind was much too cold
even to get that far,
and of course the house was boarded up.

On the way back our faces froze on the other side.
The sun came out for just a minute.
For just a minute, set in their bezels of sand,
the drab, damp, scattered stones
were multi-colored,
and all those high enough threw out long shadows,
individual shadows, then pulled them in again.
They could have been teasing the lion sun,
except that now he was behind them
--a sun who'd walked the beach the last low tide,
making those big, majestic paw-prints,
who perhaps had batted a kite out of the sky to play with.