Alexander Averin

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Home Safe

Dear Diary,

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

Mark Twain

I do apologise because I can’t remember who recommended this book to me (probably via a booky blog post?) but I just want to say thank you. Someone out there who I hope will come forward.

Elizabeth Berg writes sensitively and I very much enjoyed Home Safe.   It caused me to stay in bed half the morning and to feel sad when it ended, always a sign of a good book. The blurb on the book possibly wouldn’t have enticed me to read it but it is a fine book and she is a fine writer and I would also like to recommend this title to others.

Some tastes from the book below:

She sits down and puts her hand to her chest and rocks. Thinks of all she has lost and will lose. All she has had and will have. It seems to her that life is like gathering berries into an apron with a hole. Why do we keep on? Because the berries are beautiful, and we must eat to survive. We catch what we can. We walk past what we lose for the promise of more, just ahead.”

― Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe

When Suzie introduced Helen, she told the audience that one of the best things about books is that they are an interactive art form: that while the author may describe in some detail how a character looks, it is the reader's imagination that completes the image, making it his or her own. "That's why we so often don't like movies made from books, right?" Suzie said. "We don't like someone else's interpretation of what we see so clearly." She talked, too, about how books educate and inspire, and how they soothe the soul-"like comfort food without the calories," she said. She talked about the tactile joys of reading, the feel of a page beneath one's fingers; the elegance of typeface on a page. She talked about how people complain that they don't have time to read, and reminded them that if they gave up half an hour of television a day in favor of reading, they could finish twenty-five books a year. "Books don't take time away from us," she said. "They give it back. In this age of abstraction, of multitasking, of speed for speed's sake, they reintroduce us to the elegance-and the relief!-of real, tick-tock time.”

― Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe

I just want to say one thing. If I ever write a novel again, it's going to be in defense of weak women, inept and codependent women. I'm going to talk about all the great movies and songs and poetry that focus on such women. I'm going to toast Blanche DuBois. I'm going to celebrate women who aren't afraid to show their need and their vulnerabilities. To be honest about how hard it can be to plow your way through a life that offers no guarantees about anything. I'm going to get on my metaphorical knees and thank women who fall apart, who cry and carry on and wail and wring their hands because you know what, Midge? We all need to cry. Thank God for women who can articulate their vulnerabilities and express what probably a lot of other people want to say and feel they can't. Those peoples' stronghold against falling apart themselves is the disdain they feel for women who do it for them. Strong. I'm starting to think that's as much a party line as anything else ever handed to women for their assigned roles. When do we get respect for our differences from men? Our strength is our weakness. Our ability to feel is our humanity. You know what? I'll bet if you talk to a hundred strong women, 99 of them would say 'I'm sick of being strong. I would like to be cared for. I would like someone else to make the goddamn decisions, I'm sick of making decisions.' I know this one woman who's a beacon of strength. A single mother who can do everything - even more than you, Midge. I ran into her not long ago and we went and got a coffee and you know what she told me? She told me that when she goes out to dinner with her guy, she asks him to order everything for her. Every single thing, drink to dessert. Because she just wants to unhitch. All of us dependent, weak women have the courage to do all the time what she can only do in a restaurant.”

― Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe

Bye for now,


Thursday 24 January 2013

Bird Cake Recipe

Bird Cake

(I call mine Robin Cake because they literally go mad for it).


First make a crumble mix with plain flour and margarine ( or butter if you are rich).
Rub in half fat to plain flour with hands or in mixer – as much as you want, I generally make a Delia Smith recipe and leave a fair amount over when making one just for the two of us.
Add oats, any fresh or dried fruit, nuts of any kind, whole or ground, but not salted, cake or biscuit crumbs, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, cereal, anything really that birds like. Add any oil you may have lurking in a frying pan or similar. Suet goes down very well.  Raid the fridge and your cupboards for suitable additions.
Add a little water to bind and then roll in oats (or flour if you have no oats) so it is reasonably firm and not sticky. Make a nice cake shape.  No need to harden in the fridge (!)  -   just stick it out on the bird table, preferably one in view of a window.
Watch it disappear.


Wednesday 23 January 2013


These four pics below were taken with my zoom on full so they are not very good.  I just wanted to show you the hilltops which can be seen from my home.




Wednesday 9 January 2013

Words and Pictures

Just a  pic taken outside first thing this morning and a poem by the Welsh Poet Laureate Gillian Clarke (one of my favourite poets). This poem is from her latest collection 'Ice'.

Ode to Winter 

We hoard light, hunkered in holt and burrow,
in cave, cwtsh, den, earth, hut, lair.
Sun blinks.  Trees take down their hair.
Dusk wipes horizons, seeps into the room,
the last flame of geranium in the gloom.

In the shortening day, bring in the late flowers
to crisp in a vase, beech to break into leaf,
a branch of lark.  Take winter by the throat.
Feed the common birds, tits and finches,
the spotted woodpecker in his opera coat.

Let’s learn to love the icy winter moon,
or moonless dark and winter constellations,
Jupiter’s glow, a slow, incoming plane,
neighbourly windows,someone’s flickering screen,
a lamp-lit page, drawn curtains.

Let us praise intimacy, talk and books,
music and silence, wind and rain,
the beautiful bones of trees, taste of cold air,
darkening fields, the glittering city,
that winter longing, hiraeth, something like prayer.

Under the stilled heartbeat of trees,
wind-snapped branches, mulch and root,
a million bluebell bulbs lie low
ready to flare in lengthening light,
after the dark, the frozen earth, the snow.

Out there, fox and buzzard, kite and crow
are clearing the ground for the myth.
On the darkest day bring in the tree,
cool and pungent as forest.  Turn up the music.
Pour us a glass.  Dress the house in pagan finery.

Gillian Clarke

Our River 

More pics on my photo blog.

Thursday 3 January 2013

New Year Resolutions

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
Albert Einstein

The Leaf Charmer

New Year

The rats have gone  from the rafters,
the mice from the midden
and sun before seven no longer has to mean
rain before eleven.
How does this New Year’s morning pass?
She sweeps the leaves into the river
while listening to the robin sing.
Half-hidden in the magnolia,
he is alone and she is alone
and it is to her alone that he seems to be singing.
She thinks as she sweeps and the robin sings
and the river flows past her.
She thinks of words,
the ones that she will sweep away
like should, ought and must.
She retains the ever-present why and for good measure adds why not?
She stocks up on the cans and the coulds, the wants and the wishes
not forgetting the needs.
All nevers and buts are banned;
when, where, how and now loom large.
There are to be no more cannots, must nots,
should nots, ought nots,
ought tos, never agains;
all are quickly brushed away
along with the far too many ifs and worries, sorries and regrets.
They journey away so quickly,
downstream they go, along with her leaves
at a comforting and such a steady speed.

Cait O’Connor