Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Down by the River

Every town I've lived in has been on a river - I was born on a town on the Liffey, which enters the sea in Dublin. From age 3 til 21, I lived in Limerick, at the mouth of the Shannon, Ireland's longest (and most majestic) river. At 21, I moved to live in Sligo, where I was lucky enough to live in a house overlooking a lake just where it joined the Garravogue river. That was where I lived when I met my husband. While we moved to live in another part of the town, the river was a presence during the early years of our marriage, and when my son was born and during his first 9 years of life. Then, 12 years ago, we moved to live in Donegal, and the river in our town (the Swilly) is a less dramatic presence in the town, but still, when I catch a glimpse any time I drive out of town, it soothes me. Here, it makes its way to the sea, and if I walk far enough up my road, I come to where I can make my way to its banks.

The only "River" poem I've written (that I can recall) brings 3 of these rivers together. As a ritual of release, after my marriage ended, and after I had had my long plait (braid) cut, I brought one strand to each of the 3 rivers and let them go.


The Shannon was a rushing greedy swirl,
grabbing my offering, tugging it in a whirl,
pulling that first strand towards the salt,
tearing into dark and deep places.

The Garravogue curled towards where I stood,
welcomed my gift, held it only a moment
before the sinking, the drift to oblivion,
the dropping down, the loss.

The gentle Swilly, wide and kind
has taken the last years to its tide,
given me the clouds, the moon,
sweeping birds that flow to her line.

These waters are the westward flow,
the waters of my days, my life.
I give them the traces of our years,
three strands, unbraided:

beginning, middle, end
of me as wife.


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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Scribbling: Simple

It's Sunday, and I was about to post something, and checked what today's prompt is for Sunday Scribblings - and it is simple. I mean it is "Simple". It's not complicated. It's whatever the word says to me, and it says such a lot, but right now, here's what it prompts:

They left three hours ago - my two sisters, and my sister's fiance's teenage daughter - so they are half-way home now. They left behind in my house traces of themselves. Finn's perfume, young and flowery, in the spare room scenting the air. A plain white linen shirt my older sister left in my room - I assumed it was forgotten, but no, it was a gift, left for me to discover after she'd departed. There is a forgotten flask, which I will bring on my next trip home. There are scones and half of a lemon-tart, and a dog who's gotten used to being petted all the time over their weekend visit. In the garden, a pot of purple flowers - new to all of us, brilliant purple Sinnetti. We like them. When I arrived home from work on Friday, my visitors were already here, and as I stood at the kitchen window, it took a while for me to register what had changed. There was just a bit more purple than there had been in my garden that morning - my aquilegias offer some, but there was now more. The girls wanted to surprise me, but weren't surprised to see it was one of the first things I noticed.

Simple things they have left behind - and each one an echo of their presence, reminding me of our night out last night, our big outing to see Riverdance. Not simple - but complex, intricate dance, yet simple in its effect - hitting through to the breast-bone, causing a vibration of excitement, bypassing brain and intellect. We buzzed, each one of us. I whooped and clapped. Simple joy. Simple delight. Simply a great night, a great weekend, a great memory. It tapped into my celtic heart, vibrated there, and left me feeling, simply full.


For more 'Simple' Sunday Scribblings, go HERE

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday Night Fever!!!!

Guess where I'm going tonight?

HERE, that's where!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

100 books

I met a new-to-me Blogger, Julie Marie,today. The title of her Blog caught my eye - CelticWoman. Among the posts she made this month, she had a list of 100 books, which I've borrowed, and marked as follows:

Bold the books I've read.Italicize the ones I want to read.Cross out the ones I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. (Since I don't know how to cross out, I put an x by this one.)Put a cross (+) by the ones on my bookshelf.Put an asterisk (*) by the ones I've never heard of.

I might have done something like this before, but I'm settled on the couch, and feel like just checking, so....

+1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
+2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
+5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
+6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
+7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
+8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
*9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon
*10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
+11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
x12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
+13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
+16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
*17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
+18. The Stand (Stephen King)
+19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
+21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
+23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
+24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
+25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
+26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
+27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
+28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
+30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
+31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
*33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
+34. 1984 (George Orwell)
+35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
*36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
*37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
+38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
+40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
+41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
*43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (not read in full????)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
++48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
+51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
*53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
*56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
+57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
+59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
+60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
+61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
x64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
*65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
+68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
++70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
+71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
+75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
*76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
*81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
*84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
+86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
+87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
++88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
*89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
*91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
+94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
*96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
+97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
+99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
+100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

I'm embarrassed. There are quite a few I've never heard of. Some on my shelves not yet read. A half-read bible (without italics, you'll note). AND, despite my clearing and culling over the past few months, there are a few books of which I have two copies (++), and quite a few which should have been consigned to the charity-shop boxes.


Sunday, May 20, 2007


My son is 21 today!
I am the mother of an adult man.
I am the mother of a grown man.
My son is no longer my Boy, my Lad, my 'Baby Boy'
He's a grown-up.

Yeah. Right. Sometimes, maybe. But other times, I think he'll still be my baby. Won't he?

I drove across the country to have lunch with him today. (He's in the middle of exams).
I think he was pleased to see his Mummy.
I was pleased to see him. I'm all proud and happy and glad.
I'm a bit nostalgic too.
But I'm a lot more proud and happy and glad.

I've raised a good lad.
Happy Birthday, G.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Housekeeping---- My blogroll

For months past, I've been reminding myself that the blogroll in my sidebar is out of date. I hadn't kept it up by adding new blogs which I customarily visit (though they're on my favourites on my laptop), and I know there are some defunct blogs which I had kept sitting there (in hope that they might suddenly come back to life - sometime). Some blogpals have moved from Blogger to other (what's the word? Servers?) - You know, Typepad or such, and I hadn't updated their addresses.

Well, my halo should be shining brightly, because I've just spent an hour or more checking that everything over there is up-to-date and shipshape. I realised there are quite a few wonderful blogs I visit that hadn't made it at all into the list, and now that they are there, I am hoping that you too will discover them. So, I'm inviting you to scan the list and go check out one or two of the unfamiliar names.

This exercise has just given me a renewed appreciation of the community of bloggers I've been lucky enough to fall into. There are bloggers who are artists, writers, spiritual thinkers, Mamas, walkers, nature-photographers, poets, dreamers, schemers, wishers, SoulCollagers, cartoonists, crafters, jewelry-makers, teachers, helpers, travellers; People coping with the things life comes along with for all of us. There are empty-nesters, young Mums, people dealing with transition in work, in relationships, in study; people trying out new ways of life; people living with illness, battling and singing; people working through loss and adjusting to gains. I'm tempted to start putting links in here, but then I'd have to be leaving some people out, and I don't want to do that.

What I do want to do is to say thank you to all of my friends in BlogLand for your open-hearted ways, for sharing your days and your art, for your constant presence in my life. I feel very rich for knowing all of you. Every blessing to you all.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Poetry Thursday. From a Random Prompt

This week, Poetry Thursday is inviting humourous poems, but as Limericks are banned, and I am a Limerick-woman (I mean it, really! Literally! Limerick is my home-town, the city made famous by Frank McCourt of Angela's Ashes, and before him, by the 5-line jingling sillinesses of those rhymes) - in protest, I'm not posting anything funny. (Real truth - asking me to be funny is the kiss of death. I knew as soon as I saw that prompt that it wouldn't work for me. I'll probably turn out something funny the week the prompt is "Funeral")

So, in the absence of anything funny, amusing or even mildly humourous to post, I will post the poem that was "cooking" last week in response to a word offered by the Random Prompt Generator. The word is Flock, and I've taken a traditional approach by allowing that to be the title of the poem. Here it is:


This is evening:
Into the sycamores they tumble
from the skies above Downings.

They wheel and tack,
then fall to settle
in noisy clacking groups.

Some twirl like smuts in the air,
black smudges with no direction,
but a feel for home.

The rooks claim the trees,
shake sunset’s golden spangles out,
spread like a heavy flock blanket,
before night finally falls.


More Poetry Thursday poems will be found HERE. There should be some chuckles there. But no Limericks. I mean nothing that reads like:

In defense of her own native city,
She proclaimed 'It's a terrible pity
that my rhymes should be banned,
quite out of hand.
I think that that rule is quite......

[Only joking, Liz & Dana! Sorry, but I couldn't resist!]


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday catch-up

The prompt at Sunday Scribblings this week is "Second Chance". I've been dancing back and forth towards writing something on the topic, but as the very idea of Sunday Scribbling is to write in the moment and post it, I'm disinclined, because I don't know what will emerge (or, rather yes, I think I DO know what will emerge), and I just don't want to go back again to the angst about the end of my marriage, and the second chance we didn't give it.

See what just happened? I got a chance to bemoan my fate, and I didn't take it! I think maybe, just maybe, friends, I am moving on! If you'd like to read what second chances others have written about go HERE.

Today the sun is out, but there's a chill breeze blowing. Just right to get some laundry dry outdoors, but not for sitting outside. Walking, yes - which I will be doing later on this afternoon, as soon as I've had lunch and finished one or two tasks.

It's been a good weekend for getting things ticked off my mental "to-do" list. I'm good (sometimes) at getting to the big things, but the little ones can slip down, down the list, and so today, I did a bit of clearing, and within an hour had written the cheque, sent the emails, sorted the file of notes, put the recipes away, shelved the books, dumped the junk-mail, typed up the poems, noted the calls to be made tomorrow, and I feel good.

Yesterday, after a couple of months' absence, I put my tracksuit on and headed to the gym! And it was shut! They went off on a training-day, and no-one told me! (How were they to know I'd suddenly decide that today was the day to start - again - getting back into shape?) So, when I got home, I washed my windows. And when that was done, I washed my car! (I have never, never, washed my own car before! - I'm a great believer in the drive-through)

See? Energy, and resolve to get back into good (better, shall we say?) eating habits too, had me make up the most delicious salad for dinner. OK, ok, I did eat it with potatoes, but the balance was 2/3 plate of salad, 1/3 potato! And when I put more food on my plate, it was salad, not potato.

Amber asked to see some of the artwork I was bragging about last week, - saying how happy it makes me to have great pictures for my walls. Unfortunately, my photos of them really do not do any of them justice, but I'll see what I can do:

This was a gift from the artist. Trisha Kelly. Am I not a lucky lady?

To thank me for bringing him into the world, my son made me a gift of this on his 18th birthday. He was having a sentimental moment, and I am very glad to have this soothing, gentle, mystical watercolour on my hallway wall. It's by Gerry O'Mahony

My dear friend Mary walks every day, and as she walks, she observes the walls she passes, and in the shapes in the stone walls, she finds faces and figures, and fantastical worlds, which she then portrays on paper. I've been the lucky recipient of 2 of those (and 2 beautiful portraits by Mary, too). This is one of her 'wall' paintings:
Above my fireplace, I've hung 'The Nectar Seekers'. This is the largest picture in my collection, and the one I've had for the longest time. It must be 15 or 16 years now. It was a gift to me from the artist when she was just completing her studies at art college. Her work has since become quite sought-after, and is varied, rich and full of colour still. I love this piece so much, it became the cover of my book. Christine was very gracious when I asked her permission to use it, and came along to the launch and some of my readings.

And in my little therapy room, I've placed this painting. I bought it at a charity auction a couple of years ago. It's untitled, and I took to calling her the Blue Lady. But I have since come to the conclusion that this is my own Kwan-Yin. I'd been hoping to find a statue of Kwan-Yin, goddess of compassion and healing, and all along, I had this in my house, just waiting to be hung. It's by Brian Gallagher.

I think that's enough for now. Each of these pictures (and the others, which I may share some other time) lifts my heart, reminds me of the artist, the person from whom I received it, the circumstances in which I decided to buy a piece. They carry so much and really make my house more 'home' to me with each day that they grace my walls.

As you can see, this is not a Sunday Scribbling post at all. I'm not looking back at the second chances I didn't get. I'm appreciating all the wonderful chances I have been given and taken instead.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Poetry Thursday ---- Mary

This week's prompt from Poetry Thursday was to take a word generated by their new Randomizer, and make a poem from that. I've put my word into my notebook, and it is gently simmering at the moment, so maybe it will be ready for next week.

This week, because it's my sister's birthday (I have two sisters, and yes, I did post a poem for my younger sister back in March, when her birthday and engagement came around), but this time it's Mary's poem, and it's not a new one. I wrote it quite a while ago. But it all still holds true.


Mary has the arts
of home-making,
.... all sorted.

Mary is the master
of birthday-remembering,
.... five-plates-spinning.

Mary will organise
two weddings,
a christening,
and a surprise anniversary party
.... while we're all thinking about it.

Mary's a genius
at cheering up,
turning up,
being there.

Mary's the Big Sister.

Over the past few years, Mary has been a rock of support to me. She DOES turn up - when I've been ill or low, she will get in her car, drive 5 hours and tell me it's no problem. She sends me little cards and trinkets to let me know she's thinking of me. She looks after so many people in this way. I count myself so lucky to have such a wonderful big sister, and in our family, not just my siblings, but all of my cousins too receive much more from Mary than we could ever give to her. Love you, Mary.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

One Deep Breath - Sleep

It's been a long time since I posted a haiku for One Deep Breath but today, there is one I can share. This week's topic is "Sleep"

.........................In my deep, wide bed
.....................Hypnos takes me in his arms
.........................Peace, comfort - all night.

Thanks to all the participants who offer a moment's breath along with their haiku.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Catching up on Life

This is what happens: Life gets busy, but I still get to check up on blogs I read, I click on the Poetry Thursday or Sunday Scribbling site, and I write a piece and post it, and there you are - my blog's got somethig new on it, and a few days pass, and the same thing happens, and next thing, I've really not shared at all in the way I used to...

So, these are pieces of my life from the past few weeks:

Shopping with my sister for her wedding-gown. this was a highlight for me - a wonderful, heart-filling, happy, special time that came unplanned and like a gift. She will be a beautiful bride at her September wedding.
This week, the beginning of my employment in my new job, starting with induction training, familiarising myself with the organisation, and meeting a lot of new co-workers. Spending 3 days away from home, making new friends, finding questions, handling nerves, anxiety, realising that everything I experience can be reflected as something a counselling client might experience too. Breathing.
My second public SoulCollage workshop last Saturday. - 8 women exploring through image the parts of themselves that felt like making themselves known that day. Watching, being with, witnessing the unfoldment. Feeling honoured to be present for that. Being glad I've been gifted with this treasure and allowed to share it.
Five months after the painters finished in my house, I finally got around to putting up some hooks and hanging my precious collection of artworks about my house. I keep smiling as I look around my walls. I feel so lucky to have such beautiful art in my home.
Yesterday, went with some friends to Belfast to read at a poetry event. A generous-spirited poetry reading at which 12 poets each read one of their own poems, and a poem by a favourite foreign poet. The atmosphere was respectful without being over-precious, and the energy and enthusiasm of the largely young audience was infectious. A wonderful evening. A gift.
This morning, having stayed over, my friend Clare and I visited the botanic gardens. Birdsong, the scent of wallflowers, this and much more:

Earlier this week, an early-morning call from a dear friend, planning to visit Ireland for the first time in July. - Anticipating the fun we will have exploring and discovering new places, or previously-visited, but worth-revisiting sites.

Life is good. Life is full. After days of sunshine, the rain has returned tonight. A necessary drenching for the garden. And if the sun comes out again over the next few days, I'm ready to get out there and weed a bit, tidy a bit, ready for the summer.

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