Friday, November 30, 2007
I was trying to takes some shots of flowers in a vase last week when the wind tipped the vase over and I was left with splatters of water and a few petals...
And then a leaf from a nearby bush blew onto my canvas background...
Having taken dozens of shots, I finally tipped petals and water from the canvas and there was this...
Which made me pause and peer at the pool and a blossom which had blown into it...
And as I watched the blossom floated from the steps towards deeper water...
Sometimes "accidents" and spontaneity just result in such wonderful things!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Yesterday was the third anniversary of the passing of my beloved golden angel. His “brother” had passed on only six months before, so 2004 was a devastating year for me and I thought I would die of a broken heart. Everyone always referred to us as a family, Vanilla and Her Boys, and no one could imagine us as anything but together. I suppose people expected my boys to go on forever, though I, living with them, could see them growing older and frailer and their passing to the next dimension was inevitable. It took me a good long while to get past the grief and to realize that they hadn’t really gone anywhere, they’d just taken a different form. Love binds us together and is eternal and so I often wake up to sense one of them peering at me, muttering, “C’mon, Mom, when’re you going to get up?!” They’ve both been around since they left and now, as then, they continue to bring the most remarkable and vibrant loving energy into my life. Me? Flakey? Only in the best possible way!
And so I dedicate this post to Barnaby and St John, the best friends anyone could possibly have had and true, real, golden angels. And what characters they were and are.
One of my most enduring memories of him stems from a spring afternoon in Guernsey… I was pottering in the garden when I heard a muffled peep, peep, peep. I couldn’t work out where it was coming from. The strangest thing was that it appeared to be following me. It had to be a baby bird but there was no sign of the small thing. As I stood there pondering, the peeping came closer. So did Barnaby - and he had a particularly pleased glint in his eye. I bent down. Yes, there is was. The peeping was coming from inside of my boy! I pried open his mouth, and there, wet, bedraggled and very annoyed, was a baby blue tit, perched on his tongue and totally unharmed. Oh yes, that’s a Golden Retriever in retrieving mode for you.
And then there was St John. If there was ever a dog with views, it was he. He turned sulking into an art form. He’d sit with his back to you and then turn slowly, to cast reproachful eyes upon you over his shoulder. You knew when you were in the pooh. But he was also a dog with the hugest heart. If you cried, he was there. If you laughed, he laughed with you – he had the most remarkable sense of humour. He believed, at 43 kilos, that he was a lap dog and loved cuddles and snuggles. He was, in many ways, the best kind of teddy bear. And he was a teddy bear because St John never met a bit of protein that he didn’t like. He was a vacuum on four legs, happy to steal food off the counter and even devoured an entire tub of margarine one day – an event which left both of us feeling decidedly ill. He also had a passion of Persian carpets. If in high dudgeon, he neatly nibbled off their fringes. You knew when you’d annoyed him – he wasn’t in the wrong, you were and that’s all there was to it.
St John also had a high leisure profile. If it wasn’t necessary to move, he didn’t. I remember the evening in Dublin when we’d returned home from a meal out. As I waited at the back door, my husband let the dogs out. There was rabbit in the garden - I spotted it and pointed it out to St John who’d ambled down the steps.
“Look, Singie, rabbit!”
Hmm, yeah, so what, he muttered.
“It’s a rabbit, Singe!”
“You’re supposed to chase it.”
He set off at an unenthusiastic lollop – traveling in a circle – going so slowly that eventually the rabbit was chasing him. It wasn’t until Barnaby bolted from the door that the rabbit realized it was in serious trouble and dived through the gate and bounded off down the driveway. St John meanwhile looked at me and said, And so, just what was the point of that? Huh?
Ah yes, they were characters, my boys and my life is rich and blessed with memories of them. Forever my angels are with me.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I would like to thank you all so very much for all the kind comments and healing vibes sent my way - I swear I felt a positive wall of energy hit me last week - so huge thanks for that - you're all very unique and special people and it's my pleasure to have met you all through blogosphere. I shall continue to lie low for a while, read lots and ponder the journey - as ever. Oh yes, and I'm dreaming of a holiday - tropical preferably - sun, sea, fresh mango juice, blue skies, swaying palms, turquoise waters... Aaaah.... A girl's got to dream. And while I'm dreaming the muse is busy beating my forehead and urging me to get back to my manuscript - seems time out is no bad thing at all.
Meanwhile, I leave you with some photos. Take care of yourselves and in the words of SARK live juicy, stay succulent, wild and bodacious.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I will be back again just as soon as I'm well. Meanwhile I send you love, strength, happiness and laughter. Have fun and stay gorgeous - all of you! Oh yes, and Happy Blogging! :-)
PS Thanks for all the comments and thoughts on the previous posts. Always so much appreciated.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Carla, Sameera and Red Dirt Girl all said they'd like to play and accordingly, I went off and bought little gifts for each of them and popped them into the post. Today I had a note from Sameera to say she'd received her gift - she's even posted about it on her blog! That means that Carla and Red should be getting their gifts really soon, if they've not already arrived. On that basis, I thought you might like to see just where the little gifts came from... And so here's a bit of Novography.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
John from Country Don't Mean Dumb has tagged me for seven random things about myself. Here are the rules of the game:
1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven random [?] people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.
Hmm, so seven random things, eh... ummm...
1. I don't drink tea, coffee or alcohol but give me cocoa and I'm happy.
2. As a kid I spent lots of time hanging upside down off a trapeze bar which hung from a tree in our garden.
3. I was thrown out of art college for being over-confident. Ha bloody ha - aren't other people's perceptions wonderful things.
4. I am a dog person. Actually, more specifically, I'm a Golden Retriever person. In fact, I might be part Golden Retriever.
5. One of my favourite memories is sitting with my granny in her "bauernstube", drinking tea, eating anchovy toast and listening to her stories.
6. I once helped Santa build his grotto (my one and only foray into the world of "window and shop design").
7. When I was six I decided I was going to be the boss and an owner of a big company and sit with my feet on the desk. Well, I got the feet on the desk bit right, at least!
And now onto the tagging...
And yes, you're it!
1. Wanderlust Scarlett
2. Verilion ('cos she needs something to get her blogging momentum going again)
3. Moon Topples (because he's slipped on NaBloPoMo and clearly needs motivation)
5. Canterbury Soul
6. Le Laquet
I was also tagged for a meme by Monideepa a while ago. It was a writer's strengths and weaknesses meme. Well, I did the strengths in an earlier meme and it's over here.
As for weaknesses. I suspect my greatest is the same as a great many other writers.... Procrastination. I don't know what it is but there are some days when even mowing the lawn becomes more appealing and important than writing. It's bizarre, since I love writing and being in the flow of writing, and yet boy, oh boy, can I procrastinate. I suspect this might be because it links to another weakness, not totally trusting my muse, fearing she may let me down halfway through. Since I'm not a plotting and planning type of writer, writing is often a rollercoaster. I have no idea where the story is going and I think there are times when I'm just numbed into inaction. Strange, because I know if I just trust to the muse, the story flows. Yes, well, on that note...
I'm not tagging anyone for this, because most of you have already done the strengths meme, but if you want to do it, go ahead!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I was seven years old when I decided I would never have children - because the world was a bad and wicked place and no child deserved to come into that. I remember the moment exactly. I was standing in the garden of my grandparents' landlady. She was thin and mean - and she hated children. I don't know why. But she did. The decision came upon me in a flash and I have held to it and never regretted it. In fact, as an adult looking around at the insanity of the world, I am glad I took the decision I did. Last month I posted a rather harrowing piece about the sexual abuse of a young girl. More recently, Baino posted a piece about paedophilia and child porn. Cruelty towards children and child abuse are unquestionably amongst the greatest challenges facing all societies today. None of us are immune and we cannot afford to be.
When I posted Lee Ann’s story it was October and several of us were participating in Phoctober. It occurred to me then that it might be a gesture to children everywhere to have one day where we all posted photos paying tribute to children and childhood. Then I stopped and thought. How would we know some screwball wouldn’t come along and perve over our innocently posted images? Moreover, how might we be viewed in going out taking photos of children at play - and posting them on our blogs? Might we be seen as potential molesters, kidnappers or paedophiles? Then I stopped and thought some more. Just what sort of societies do we actually live in where we even have to worry about that? What could be more natural that photographing children at play – god knows, there are plenty of such images all over the internet. But as Baino said in her reply to my comment on her post, "Over here cameras are often banned at children's sports carnivals and swim meets for fear that some pervert might take inappropriate photographs." So, obviously I am not alone in my concern for what parents and others might think if I stood in the park and watched and photographed children at play and then posted those pictures here. It is a sad indictment of society. And as for those who would perve over the images of children… Well therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? Recent blitzes in various countries have resulted in the arrest of many paedophiles. (See Baino's post.) In France alone, in October this year, 300 people were arrested for trafficking in child porn.
In South Africa, child abuse is a major issue. Both the violent history of our apartheid past, the belief in virgin-cures for AIDS and HIV (which are of pandemic proportions here), drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, and overcrowding make child abuse a very serious concern. If you are up to it, I suggest you read about young "Lerato" and baby Tshepang. It is alleged that there are 20 000 child rapes in South Africa every year - this is a 400% increase in a decade and a half. In fact the rape of children is now so constant that it is not even news. What is of startling concern is that some of these instances of horrific abuse are conducted by children. As I drove along the other day a headline banner shrieked, "Laaitjie rapes baby". A "laaitjie" is a boy child of about 8 - 13 years old. A few days later, another headline banner yelled, "Gang of boys rapes little girl". If they start like this, how do they go on? And let me point out that these boys are children in the communities, they are not interlopers from some other neighbourhood.
Many years ago, a psychologist friend told me she was leaving South Africa. She couldn't, she said, in all good conscience, raise her young daughter here. She had recently returned from a conference in Johannesburg where one of the speakers had told of a young boy who had been beaten to death for crossing "territory". His attackers were the same age their victim - between eight and ten years old. The children dragged the body of their victim away and hid it. They returned a few days later and proceeded to eat the body. At the time, I refused to believe the story was true - though why my friend should have made up something so horrific was beyond me. Today, as I see continual reports of abuse of children by both adults and children, I yet again remember my friend's words.
Of course, one does well to remember that it is not just those from the impoverished parts of a society that are affected. Child abuse is as rampant in wealthy homes as it is in poor homes. Child abuse knows no social boundaries. Yet wherever it occurs, it is a symptom of a sick society. The fact that it is apparent that child abuse is so on the increase - not just here, but globally - must surely tell us something - yet another thing - about the state of our world. Why any sane person would willfully inflict pain and suffering on a child can only speak of far greater and deeper pains, fears and psychological traumas - experienced by the perpetrator. Circles within circles, or, as I said before, what Alice Miller calls the poisonous pedagogy. Let's also remember that child abuse isn't just about sexual abuse - there is also emotional and psychological abuse and neglect - a festering form of abuse that leaves no visible scars but which scars deeply - usually because it can continue for a lifetime, as well as physical abuse and neglect.
And so, I end this post by saying I have no images of children to show you - for the very reasons I first mentioned. What I have instead, are pictures captured almost furtively at a festival and then played with in the digital darkroom so that the original subject matter is pretty much unrecognisable - and certainly nothing worth perving over. It may be a creative way of dealing with the subject, but it also strikes me as rather sad that I felt I needed to handle the images this way.
Monday, November 12, 2007
And was then drawn to the inside of the vase itself...
And unable to let well enough alone, I then doddled into the digital darkroom...
The pic above is one of a series - I had a fine old time with lighting effects to create a range of images which look like molten metal - very cool, if I say so myself - well, okay, so I think so anyway! And needless to say, on a few some bubbles also arose. What can I say, I'm playing, I'm having fun - isn't that what creativity is all about? No, don't go getting all purist on me, I just won't have it. I'll sit here and play devil's advocate and insist that creativity is about what I enjoying making and seeing/reading/hearing.
Which sort of brings me to something which has been rattling around in my head for a while now. This notion of the critic and "what is art". While I have been known in my time to be a literary and artistic snob, I do take serious issue with the line of the critic. What gives any one person the right to sit in judgement over the creative outpourings of another? Yes, I've heard all the stock in trade arguments about education, and standards and what is considered "good" literature, art, music, etc. - along with all the other arguments about the role of the critic to inform the great unwashed masses. But for me it always comes back to two things: Judgement and arrogance. And both, it has long struck me, stem from insecurity which stems from fear (which is the direct counter to love - this is a whole other topic which I may - or not - address at a later date). And fear, let me point out, inevitably results in divisiveness. Now, why, I want to know, can the person who paints chocolate box paintings, and the person who enjoys those images, not just be left alone to indulge in that enjoyment? If Joe Blogs prefers the floral tributes on canvas painted by his Aunty Maud to the squares and angles of Picasso or Braque, must he immediately be seen as some kind of philistine?
It's a contentious argument, I know, but one which I had a fine time making earlier this year when in conversation with a man who is undertaking his Masters degree in Creative Writing. His position was very much one of the literary snob. And it's a position that I not only find arrogant but also elitist. It's an approach, I think, which serves to further highlight our differences, to focus on that age old position that some of us are so much better than the rest of you. "We read Proust, Voltaire, Zola, you read Grisham, Deighton and Steele. Pah and bah humbug." I'm not, let me point out, in this instance referring to badly written material, but I am speaking about that which is considered "non-literary".
I suppose it is less the detail of the matter I object to than the "grand vision", the bigger picture - the indictment of our already divided humanity that some should persist on creating further divides, forming more labels - this is acceptable, that is not. "If you read this you are unobjectionable, if you read that, you simply cannot, my dear, be allowed admittance to the rarefied air of our inner circle. Go away, you horrible, narrow, little person."
I could witter on, and I admit to dealing with a complex topic rather simplistically - but one has to start somewhere and I'm not about to attempt either an essay or a dissertation on a blog!
So, now that I may have dropped the proverbial cat in amongst the pigeons, what do you think? C'mon over to comments and let's chat.
Meanwhile I leave you with some of these to smile at or growl over...
“The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all”
“Write how you want, the critic shall show the world you could have written better.”
“A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded.”
“The critic is a man who prefers the indolence of opinion to the trials of action.”
John Mason Brown
Hmm, and now I'm left wondering how on earth this line of thinking arose - I had planned an entirely different post for today. Oh well, thank goodness there's tomorrow!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
And then she disappeared for a few weeks - left me high and dry. I had no idea where she'd gone to and I have to be quite honest and say, I barely recognised her when she returned...
Now I call her Butterbush because she's too big to be a cup...
She tells me, between burps, that she went on a chocovation. This, it appears, is a the same as a chocoliday. It transpires that she started flitting the globe in search of chocolates, pastries and cakes. She went here, here and here. By which stage her flit, turned into a f-f-flutter and then into a flap. And now it's a sort of flub. Since muses will not stand being told what to do, I'm leaving her to her own devices and I hope that in due course she will be fit enough (it might take a good few sessions at the gym, I fear) to continue her (a)musing duties.
See what chocolate does to you. It's sad, isn't it. I think perhaps I'll just stick to vanilla.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Stream of Consciousness VII
Rising clouds of crystal white
voice ethereal susurration
as myriad nebulae
sing on cosmic wings
Light to night
by three times bright
Wisps of wind
echo unmade dreams
and give them moonlit flight.
Stream of Consciousness VIII
through silver clouds
while waterfalls splash
and cast crystal gems
to unfathomed worlds.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Ooh, oooh, ooooh!!! I’ve been awarded a Roar For Powerful Words by the incomparable Debi Alper. Rooooooaaaaaaar! I take this as a great honour coming as it does from a writer and author of very powerful words.
The Roar was initiated by the Irish-New Zealand fellow who lives in Lyon (how’s that for cosmopolitan!), hangs out at Shameless Words and who hosts the Shameless Lions Writing Circle.
Shameless has said:
I've launched a new project over at The Shameless Lions Writing Circle that aims to celebrate good and powerful writing in the blogosphere. The idea is for recipients of this award to also choose five blogsters they would like to honour. Despite what some say in the mainstream media, there is some fantastic writing to be found on many blogs!
Those people I've given this award to are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc etc. Let's send a roar through the blogosphere!
The Roar Award image may be collected here. Your choice of three colours!
So, here are three things (I could, of course, list more...) I consider necessary for good, powerful writing – and I do think they are interlinked.
1. Passion – when you write with passion, when you let go and let the creativity surge through you, you cannot help but to create words of power and integrity.
2. Trust in the Muse – again, this is about letting go – of preconceived notions, of the inner critic - and of trusting to the greater creative energy that is bigger than you but which works through you enabling you to create beauty, magic, poignancy, wit, love, other worlds and other states of being. When you trust in the muse you are able to write beyond convention, with innovation, without fear and you allow yourself to go where the creative energy leads you. The best ride of them all.
3. Truth – write what you know about. When you write about the things you know about, experiences you have had, when you are willing to share your wisdom and your being with the world, then the words which flow from you are words of truth and there is nothing more powerful that individual truths. They may not be the Absolute Truth, but what you write is given weight, credibility and integrity because you, the writer, know, feel and truly understand those words - and because you do, you make them real for others - your readers.
Now, in time-honoured tradition, I must pass this award along. So I duly award a Roar to (and in no particular order):
Addy, at Wilf's World - Addy has created a character and world which is based on her love of story, her profound understanding of character and the mind and langauge of children - and it is one huge and delightful romp. Little boys, it seems, get to have plenty of adventures!
Alaleh at Abir O Moshk - I have yet to encounter, in blogosphere, a writer who writes more simply and powerfully than Alaleh. Go and discover her. See for yourself. This is genius at work. Hey, what can I say, I'm a fan.
Vesper at Chick with a Quill - Vesper writes with passion, with beauty, with heartfelt feeling and with boundless imagination. Her words are filled with consideration for her subject and her audience and you just know when you read her words that she trusts to her muse.
Baino at Baino's Banter - Baino writes with passion, with truth, with humour - and is unafraid to speak her mind. I know Baino doesn't consider herself a real writer, but I know she hopes one day to write that hidden novel. She will do it really well when she does. She may not think she is a real writer. I know she is.
Reya at The Gold Puppy - I've not been visiting Reya's blog for long but there is a simple honesty, humour, wisdom and integrity in Reya's words that draws me back to her blog time and time again.
Let us send Blogosphere a huge ROOOOOOOOOAAAAAR!!!
And now, today's short stream of consciousnesss...
Languid river meanders
drifts in silent
ebbs and flows
darts and flies
on iridescent wings
And there the breeze rises.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Stream of Consciousness V
White bird soars
and tastes the sky
Azure blue stretches wide
roll endlessly by
Soul bird sings
drip from her lips
White bird kisses
soul’s brightening eye.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Stream of Consciousness IV
through myriad realms
touch the sky
Peace is home
There go I
I'd like to take the opportunity to direct you to two blog posts that have really touched me today - I urge you to take a look at Hand in Hand at Alaleh's blog and Sometimes I'm Serious at Baino's blog. See the highs and the lows of humanity and wonder at that which we are.
Scenes captured yesterday in Ms Vanilla's backyard.... Squirrel bath-time! It would appear that aside from the hatching of guinea fowl chicks, the squirrels too have been broody...
Mom thinks to herself, "Hmmm, why is bath time always such a trial?"
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Stream of Consciousness II
over Pan’s pipes
Summer haze spreads
in golden waves
all is abundance
Stream of Consciousness III
twinkle on water
Blue butterfly soars
through heaven’s arches
to dewdrop gems
And now, on a completely different note, I need to direct you here... To the blog of the Sisterhood of the Pointy Heels. I have no idea how it happened, I'm not even sure if I follow it but evidently I am Commander in Chief of the Sisters of the Pointy Hats (this is just what chance remarks will result in) and as such, have earned myself a place at the Round Table of the Greater Sisterhood. You are thusly requested, by the CnC of the Sisters of the Pointy Heels to "add your valued comments to the proceedings". As I understand it, something of a battle is ensuing between the Sisters and The Knight of the Besmirched Countenance (well, you know just how mucky men can be). I confess that it is largely all beyond me but I nevertheless, as ordered by the CnC of the Sisterhood, point you in the direction of all things, well, pointy. The story appears to start here and, more particularly, here. Just don't come back and ask for explanations from me if you happen to be confused.