Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Sunday Scribblings: Bed-time
Miffy would be there. And a bear called … what was his name? We used to joke that we’d almost called G… Wilberforce… that was the name. A bear called Wilberforce. Talking teddies and donkeys that wanted to do the right thing, but managed to get it wrong. We would bring singing ducks and people who went flying on the string of a balloon to bed each night. I would sit in with G and he would pick out the book, and I would read. It lasted only a few years, and the pang the night he grabbed his book and announced that he could now read for himself felt almost like the pang (accompanied by a certain relief also), the evening I realised he actually could sleep without nursing at my breast, that he didn’t need me in the way he had from birth. I’d been reading to him, singing and telling him stories from the day he was born. Bed-time involved those stories that came from books, and stories of himself, of us. His favourite story was the one of the Monday night and early Tuesday morning during which he made his way into this world. And then what happened? And when the nurse told Daddy to go home, he didn’t go, did he? (No, he didn’t… and a good thing too, because even though all the nurses thought you would take a long time coming, they didn’t know who we were dealing with … a little boy who would always be in a hurry, isn’t that right?) And next morning, who came? Auntie Annie, with a stuffed dog, saying every boy should have a dog, and Aideen the nurse, with your first book – a book of nursery rhymes, and we would sing some of the rhymes from that first book, and we would count One to Ten and down again from the book that had come from his cousin’s first library, and read bits from Enid Blyton, and stories from Childcraft, and it was there, in the little bed in that little blue room that my son’s love of books came into being. His voracious appetite for books hasn’t been stunted by even his fascination with Gameboy, Nintendo and Internet; not by his social life, not by girls, not by college. Now it’s John Grisham and Michael Connelly. Now it’s mystery and thriller, but I don’t mind what it is – so long as my son is happy and comfortable with a book in his hands, and realises the joy there is to be had from the words and the worlds to be found between the covers of a book, so long as he is likely to be a parent who, when his own children ask for a story, will find it the most natural thing in the world, to reach for a book, and to become lost in that world all over again.
More Sunday Scribblings on the topic of Bed-Time will be found HERE
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Where HAVE I been?
Hmm... how to gather together and encapsulate the past 9 or 10 days into one coherent post. I disappeared without hinting that I may be away from the computer. Stuff just happened, that's all. My sister found herself with a few free days, and came to visit, which was lovely. We ate out, and went to the theatre, (the wonderful Dancing At Lughnasa - the link is to a different production, but you get the idea!).
Then, over the weekend, from Friday evening through to late Sunday afternoon, I was taking part in a marvellous, invigorating, deep, fun, transformative, sometimes almost-scary workshop on Working with Myth and Legend for counsellors and listeners. It involved movement, dance, drama, art, introspection. Almost impossible to describe the process, but it was an immersion in legend, a place between real-life and the ineffable. The training was given by a facilitator trained by Paul Rebillot. The myth we focused on was The Children of Lir, which appears in many versions on the web. Here are two: Here and Here... This one is the one I read, and I love the language of it, though it isn't easy to read, perhaps.
No sooner had I come home, than I found myself, instead of exhausted and worn out from the intensity of the process, but energised instead - and there I was, on my patio, racing to stay with the last of the daylight, emptying dead summer-plants from my pots, and filling the pots with cyclamen, pansies and asters. I tidied and readied for winter. What's happening? Plants bought weeks ago, and suddenly, I had the energy. I left a pot of white cyclamen outside my kitchen window, with beautiful uplifted petals looking like the wings of swans.
And then, just as I came indoors to rest and relax, word came that the painter I'd booked weeks ago to come repaint my entire house, inside and out, - was going to arrive at 8.30 next morning! Panic stations! Bring the dog (poor, poor Trixie... I am sorry. I really am!) to the kennels, to keep her out from underfoot, and out of danger of paint, open doors, men's feet, furniture being moved... Start taking pictures off the walls, clearing clutter (oh, oh, oh.... that clutter!), getting ready for him.
So, since Monday, I've been getting on with the ordinary business of life - some work, some play, some seeing friends, some phone-calls, some emails, some cooking, some brief catching-up on reading blogs, but no time for posting, no time for leisurely reading.
I've caught up today, because I'm confined to my study. The living-room, hallway and kitchen are full of painters' paraphernalia, and this is a safe space, by virtue of the decision to leave it til last. - It has the most furniture to be moved. So, here I am, with books, coffee and PC. It's a hard life! - And someone else doing the hard work of actually painting. I have already brought 3 boxes of books to charity shops, and have filled another 3 boxes. There's furniture, curtains, and lots and lots of my son's old stuff to go too, so the next few weeks will be busy weeks of clearing, and that feels just great, because I will enter my 50th year (I'll turn 49, in other words) in December, and will have a clear space, a new environment around me, and I'm SO looking forward to that. Wish me the energy to complete the transformation! - But I think I'm doing well energy-wise, because it's going in the right direction, and I'm pausing to rest, and not going hell-for-leather at anything... and because I've had a very, very, very long run-in time to this project.
THAT's where I've been! Sorry to have missed Sunday Scribblings and Poetry Thursday, sorry to have not said... but it all took over fairly suddenly..
Finally, I'd like to have added a bit of visual interest in the way of photos, but Blogger wouldn't let me. I don't know why. Sorry for the boring post!
Oh... and just in case I find myself without enough going on to keep me busy....
Monday, October 16, 2006
One Deep Breath - Simple Pleasures
..................Silky golden head
..........................resting on my arm just now
..............................Trixie home again
This week's prompt from One Deep Breath is Simple Pleasures. This one was the most immediate to me - the pleasure of a presence like Trixie, her companionship. Then there's coffee, there are figs and almonds. There is October sunshine and the sound of the sea. There's sitting with friends and planning birthday treats for friends. There is the prospect of puy lentil stew for dinner. There is the feeling of my hair after it's been blow-dried smooth. There is that cedarwood candle a friend gave me last week, and there is the song of a thrush outside.
More? Find them HERE
Some of the people who commented on my Sunday Scribbling post expressed a wish that they, too, could experience something like the Writers' Retreat I mentioned. This has been an annual event of my writers' group for the past 6 years (this was our 7th retreat). We don't call it a retreat among ourselves. We just call it by the name of the place we go to. (Top Secret!)The first weekend was so wonderful, we've never thought of going anywhere else. We stay in a residential space where there are no other groups, just a few staff discreetly and kindly looking after the huge appetites for food that we manage to acquire by sitting around writing. Because we go to the same place, we ring the changes by having a different poet to facilitate workshops with us each year. For the first few years, we asked for critique, but the past two years have been times of generating new work, asking for stimulus and prompts to get us doing something new and different, and this lifts the energy much more than picking over poems already produced. We've also incorporated other creativity-stimulating activities, by inviting someone to do drama exercises, collage, artwork, relaxation techniques or group-building exercises as a lead-in or wind-up to the weekend. Our Saturday evening is spent in the large, comfortable living-room celebrating poetry and song, by choosing a favourite poem to share, and some of our own work also.
I feel immensely fortunate to be part of a group that has developed a culture of acceptance, support and celebration of the work we all do, and in which differences are really encouraged and valued. Each member has their own style and voice, and this is respected. Oddly, though, I've never told them about my blog. Well... I haven't really told many people at all. So, I won't be posting a picture of the group. Rest assured that in the group photo, there are happy women, pleased to be going home having consolidated the group further, and each filled a few pages of a notebook with material for future poems.
If you have a writing tribe, group or buddy, why not arrange a mini-retreat? A day, or even a half-day devoted to comfort and space and writing? Book a small conference-room at a quiet hotel, ask a couple of members to suggest writing exercises, and come together to write. Let me know if you're planning to do it, and I'll cheer you on from afar!
I tried to add some more pictures here, succeeded, only to lose my sidebar, and the only way to restore it was to delete the pictures. When I tried to replace them with smaller versions, Blogger wouldn't let them in. Sorry. No more pictures from the "Secret" location!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Sunday Scribblings - If I could Stop Time....
It's been quite a few weeks since I've been around on a Sunday, so I've been absent from Sunday Scribblings (although I often d0 get a bunch of the pieces read during the course of the week). This week, I am home early enough today (Sunday afternoon) to scribble a very brief response to the prompt. I posted a poem on this theme a few months ago for Poetry Thursday HERE. You can tell that the idea of time stopping doesn't appeal to me at all!
If I could stop time, if I was given that power, would it take superhuman power within me to resist the temptation to apply it, to not make that invisible clock that moves us all forward grind to a halt?
I wouldn’t want to stop time, to be responsible for anyone who is suffering being forever in that state, to be the one who decides that this moment, the one I value so much for me, has to be the one that everyone else is going to have to endlessly live through too.
That time moves on, is part of what makes life special: It is what makes a special moment so precious, so valued – knowing that it will not last, that it will be lost, that it is fleeting and passing, and meant to be savoured right now, now in this moment. That time moves on is part of what makes it possible to weather the hard moments, to be able to say “This too shall pass” and know that it is true.
If I were given the power to stop time, I think I would consider myself cursed, I would want to hand back the power, to say that is a cup I will pass, that is a power I would never wish to wield.
I've just returned from a weekend with one of the writers' groups I belong to, and although I say I wouldn't want to stop time, it might have been nice to slow it down a little, to enjoy these moments just a bit longer:
Blogger's being awkward about letting me post any more than one picture. But there were many beautiful moments in the weekend, among people who mean a great deal to me, with a marvellous workshop leader who coaxed amazing work from a group who were lazy with good food and sea air. This was our 7th annual retreat together and a treasure to be held in memory.
Oh..... And look HERE to see the quote from Stanley Kunitz I've just spotted posted by Theresa Very apt to the theme I think.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Poetry Thursday - Here is the News
The prompt this week at Poetry Thursday is to respond to something from the news. When I see prompts, my instinct is to mentally trawl through my body of work, and if something clicks then to offer this. This week, there's a poem I can offer that is connected. It was written at a workshop offered by Matthew Sweeney, and the exercise is an interesting one.
Select a random item from a newspaper, an item within the room in which you are writing, and an item outside the window of the room. Combine them somehow into a poem. This is one such poem:
................This Day: 4 July, 2002. Bantry
....................Now they are tossing the papers,
....................trying to shake the best bits of news
....................onto the table, to rattle the rest of the story
....................out like the last embers from the range.
....................It doesn't work like that! I want to say.
....................It isn't like Hampton Court Flower Show either -
....................model gardens made in six days, dismantled in one,
....................at the end of the second glorious week.
....................You think a recipe is all you need - for
....................beans on toast, a garden, the perfect war
....................or air-strike. Show me the pictures now. Where
....................are the bodies? Where is the blood?
....................Outside, a saint whose name escapes me
....................stretches bronze arms to the sea -
....................a call for calm or a beckoning.
....................Here, tell me the news. Tell me.
There will be more newsy poems HERE
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
One Deep Breath - Countryside
We haven't had our first frosts, and many trees have yet to begin displaying their Autumn glory, but I love the colours that are showing up on this rhus. Did I cheat, in that the photo was taken in a garden within a country park? Oh, well....
.............These are autumn’s gifts
.............gold, copper, amber, rubies
............before winter’s chill
There will be more Countryside Haiku HERE
Labels: One Deep Breath
Saturday, October 07, 2006
What Possessed Me?
There I was, idly browsing, minding my own business, and next thing, I've signed up to write a novel - in a month! Starting 1st November. I'm not the only one doing it, and I'm not the first, so I'm in good company, I'm sure, but it wasn't what I meant to be doing for November. There was a lot of TV to watch. There were a lot of crackers to eat. There were a lot of tail-ends of yarn to be sewn in on the squares I've been crocheting for an endless afghan. And now, in 25 days time, I'm planning to embark on something quite a bit longer than any poem I've ever written, that's for sure. Wish me luck. Oh..... It's all because of NaNoWriMo. Let's just see what happens, shall we?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Poetry Thursday. The Body
This week's prompt at Poetry Thursday is The Body, and, as it happens, I wrote a piece beginning "This is my body..." during the 2-week women writing workshop I took in the summer. It was sitting there in my notebook, and I hadn't paid it much attention - or any attention at all. Now that I've written that, I think maybe that's a reflection of how I can be towards my body much of the time. - Let it sit there, and even when it speaks to me, not pay it as much attention as it needs. So, now that I've had another reminder, maybe I will listen to this again:
..........This is my body,
..........this quiet thing that carries me,
..........making herself known to me now,
..........asking Are you ready to hold my hand?
..........Left alone, the servant and I
..........have met one another’s eyes,
..........and I am matching my stride to her now,
..........and no-one else.
You will find more Poetry Thursday pieces HERE