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.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sunday Scribblings: Phantoms and Shadows

The prompt at Sunday Scribblings This week: things and people, times, places, events and how your memory has treated them. Are there people you try to remember more clearly, phantoms you'd like to reach back into the past and take a firm hold of? What do you remember of your early school years? College years? Your grandparents? First pets, first houses, first friends? Do you have a good or poor memory? If you could go back to any particular time/place to recall more vividly what it was like, what would that be?

I don't live in my hometown. It's a 5+ hour journey, so I get home every few weeks for a long weekend. Sometimes it's a couple of months, and when I am there, my time's spent with family. I've lost touch with almost everyone I went to school with. Sometimes, word reaches me of an old schoolfriend, and most recently it was the death of a girl I hadn't thought of in years. We weren't particularly good friends, but she lived nearby, and we sometimes sat on the bus together. We'd lost touch long before our schooldays ended, in fact. I changed schools, then my family moved house, so I've no idea when was the last time we exchanged a hello. I don't know what career-path she followed. I've heard she was married, but I think it didn't work out. I'm not sure whether she had children. Back in the schooldays, her best friend was a strange little girl, and I remember that I admired her loyalty. That friend died young - in her thirties, or even late twenties. It seems a long time ago. So maybe they're reunited now... I can picture the exchange... "What kept you? I've been waiting AGES at that bus-stop. Have you done your homework? Want to see mine?..."

Because I'm not about my hometown too much, the scraps and bits of news that circulate about marriages, births, illnesses, deaths, don't reach my ears as a matter of course. Sometimes one of my sisters will hear something, and will make a mental calculation as to likely age of the person, and enquire if they went to the schools I went to. Later, I'll be asked whether so-and-so was in my class at school. And more and more often, I find myself not sure. Sometimes I'm saying Yes, the name's familiar. Had she a sister? Pauline? Patricia? Was that the girl whose father had a butcher-shop? Did her cousin die in that car-crash that time?

When I was small, I remember being in town with my mother, and the sense of dread I'd feel if she was stopped by some old friend from the past. A "girl" she'd worked with, or knew from going to the dances. I knew I'd be left swinging round the bus-pole for what felt like hours, while they ran through the litany of all their old acquaintances, exclaiming at the news of who'd had another baby, and tutting and whispering at some darkly secret happening, the nature of which I never managed to grasp. In later years, my mother kept up her knowledge of her wide network of friends and acquaintances through her sisters - who lived scattered throughout the city at that stage. Long hours over pots of tea while they exchanged news of a Mary or an Annie, who'd married this man or that, (or even a fella from some other place, from Dublin, or County Roscommon, perhaps), and whose children had gone on to do this or that, to live in this place or that. An intricate and detailed catalogue that at the time felt to me to be the workings of busybodies. I couldn't understand why the doings of relative strangers was of such interest to them.

But now I'm beginning to see something of what it was. Knowing where all those people, who had touched their lives at some point, had now gone, helped them to fix themselves within their own lives in some way. Those people were people they didn't want to lose from their map. I'm feeling a sadness, a loss that I let go so long ago of the threads that would have connected me to Emily, to Majella, to Frances or Betty. They are not phantoms that haunt me in any big way, but now I am beginning to notice their shadows are about. Now I am beginning to wonder...

That was for this week's Sunday Scribblings. Go on over there to meet other Phantoms and Shadows.

Phantoms is also the prompt at the Meme Express on Monday! Who'd have thunk?

I'm participating in One World, One Heart again this year. Here's the post with my giveaway, if you'd like to take part.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

One World One Heart

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Last year, I got such joy from participating in One World, One Heart. This year, the event just crept up on me. I didn't realise Lisa was gearing up and getting it all in place until just a couple of days ago. And what an undertaking it is! Lisa Oceandreamer started two years ago, creating a place where bloggers could meet and mingle, offering one another little gifts of something they have made, around Valentine's Day. I participated last year for the first time, and was the lucky recipient of a bunch of beautiful prizes offered by creative bloggers. The giving and receiving of gifts is lovely, but the even greater gift is getting to meet new people, to share interests. Some links made through this mingling last, some are brief "nice to meet you" encounters.

All the details are at the One World One Heart blog. You can participate by offering a giveaway on your own blog, or you can visit any of the participating blogs, leave a comment and be entered in the draw on offer.

This year, I have six items to give away.

Five of them are the product of a long-ago flurry of activity with papier-mache and decoupage. There are two vases and three bowls. You can be pretty sure they are each one-of-a-kind. The sixth item is in the background of the photo... It's a cream tweedy-flecked little lap-blanket which I've just finished knitting. It could be a baby-blanket either!

Leave a comment on this post in order to enter the draw for the giveaway. I will make the draw and post names of winners as close as possible to the date on which One World, One Heart officially ends - 12th February. You don't have to have a blog to enter. You don't have to be particpating with your own giveaway either. But you do have to make it possible for me to contact you if you win, which means leaving me either a link to an active blog, or an email address.

Ok.... Let's have fun! I'm so looking forward to meeting new bloggers and saying "hello" as I pick random participants to visit. As the count is now over 400(!!!!), I doubt I'll get to visit everyone, but I'll try!

Welcome if you haven't visited here before. I'm so glad you dropped by!


Added Wednesday 28th... My link's just been added to the list on the One World One Heart blog today, and visitors have started to arrive in numbers. I'm away for a few days, so won't be visiting too many of you until next week, but I'm really glad you've come over, and I'll try to visit over the coming week... and beyond the draw too.


Added 12th February..... Comments are now closed, and HERE is where I announce the winners. Thanks everybody for coming by, and hope we'll meet again in the Blogosphere. Pop back any time!

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Scribblings.... Pilgrimage

There was only one place outside of Buenos Aires that I really wanted to get to during my visit to my son at Christmas-time, and that was the town of Quilmes. And specifically, I wanted to visit the cemetary there, to pay my respects at the resting-place of May Maxwell. An American Baha'i, who lived most of her life in Canada, and was known as the "Mother of the Canadian Baha'i community", she passed away in Buenos Aires in 1940, and knowing I would be that close to her grave, I felt drawn to go to pay my respects, to say a little prayer.

Sylvia, the tour guide who took us around the city one day, knew nothing about a cemetary in Quilmes, but said she'd find out, and make arrangements for a driver to bring us out there. It's normally a 40-minute drive, but we chose to leave at noon, which of course, had us sitting in slow traffic as we traversed the city. I didn't mind that much, as it gave me a chance to people-watch. How do people manage to look so cool and elegant in this heat? was my constant wondering question!

We passed by skyscrapers and bridges, parks and schools, the port, blocks of apartments... out to the city's outskirts where odd little groupings of rough huts were obviously also home to some of the poorest of the city's people. On we went, and soon found ourselves traversing the streets of Quilmes, which was a far bigger town than we'd expected. I was glad we hadn't opted to travel by train. Who knows how far we'd have had to walk to get to the cemetary from the station?

As soon as our driver had left us off, just inside the gates of the cemetary, I began to walk down the path, and just a short distance along, I spotted what I knew was May Maxwell's gravestone. I'd seen a picture, and it is very distinctive.

What a peaceful spot it was. The only sounds were gentle birdsong and what seemed like far-distant traffic. There was no special ritual I needed to perform. A few silent prayers, a few moments communing with the spirit of a woman who had given so much to my faith, whose daughter became the wife of the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, (and whose home I had the pleasure of visiting during my 1991 pilgrimage to the Holy Land).

As I began to explore the area around the grave, I realised that quite a few Baha'is have been buried in the vicinity, so the gravestones about bore, in Spanish, phrases and quotes from our Writings. Some, I could identify, and others I could only repeat the words without being sure of their meaning. I found it very comforting to encounter the symbols and words of my Faith here, and I was so glad that my son and I had made this small pilgrimage, that I had visited her resting-place and paid my respects.


This "pilgrimage" is for this week's Sunday Scribblings. There was a problem with Mr Linky on the site, but it seems to be fixed now. If not, check the Sunday Scribblings comments section for links to other pilgrimages.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Organics... Sunday Scribbling... and another year gone by

Sunday Scribbling's prompt today is "Organic" What does the word mean to you? I've resisted the temptation to go in search of the official meaning before I respond. I've always taken it to have something to do with having respect for the integrity of an organism... allowing natural growth, for instance, without interfering with the use of chemicals and forcing rapid growth. Mostly, it relates to plants, I suppose, but I use the word more often in conversation in terms of internal human processes, and relate to it as a benign force. I find the idea of organic growth comforting - that what's happening is in line with the natural order, I suppose, and in that sense I use it when I speak of our emotional and psychological lives.

Do you remember the movie "Being There"? Chance the Gardener didn't know a lot, but he knew about gardening, and when he spoke of the natural processes of growth and decay, of awaiting the right season for activity, people around him took deep meaning from what he said. I've always found analogies between gardening and life to mean a great deal. I trust that when it feels like nothing is happening, when everything seems dark and dead, that under the surface, life is stirring, shoots are beginning to move towards the light, and that when Spring returns, they will break through the surface, fresh and green. That's been the one fact of life that I've relied on in my most difficult times. I trust that there is an organic process at work, that the soul knows its way, as I described in one of my SoulFragments blog-posts.

Yesterday was my Blogaversary! 3 years, and what a 3 years it's been! I can hardly believe that, in fact! I know the past year has been scrappy. I went into a cocoon space after my mother's death, and during the past few months I've felt bad about all the blogs I haven't kept up with. - People whose lives have come to be a part of mine, and yet, I've not have the energy to keep up with what's happening for you all.

Can I wish each of you a Happy New Year? And say that even when I don't make appearances at your blogs, or here so much, everything you've given me in your sharing has been part of what has sustained me during the past months.

I'm in a good place now, in fact. The grief process is moving, moving through me - or me through it.

I spent 10 days in Argentina, visiting my son, and what a change that was! Christmas dinner (of the best beef in the world!), in a summer night-time garden, with his friends. I relaxed, read, and we did some touring around Buenos Aires. Beautiful city, but the most special thing about it was that I got to be there with my boy. We visited Eva Peron's resting-place, the museum of Fine Art, and went to see a Tango show. Wow!

So, 2008 is past. 2009's begun. Here's to my 4th year of blogging. I don't know what's ahead, but I think it will develop in its own organic fashion, given time and trust, and if I turn my attention here from time to time. Here's to a good year for all of you, my Sunday Scribbling friends, my blogging friends of all sorts.

Blessings to you.

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