Monday, December 24, 2007

Foy Vance Live - Gabriel and the Vagabond

Just thinking today about everyone I've met over the last couple of weeks and the Christmas exchange of greetings and talk about what people are planning over the next fews days. For many people this is a tough Christmas. For some every Christmas is difficult. There are some this year who have lost people they love. Some for whom Christmas is stark reminder of what never they never had. Some taking the homeless into their own families. Some who are homeless and who will find family somewhere beyond the people they were born to. Some who will be reminded how different they are. Some who are embracing the different ones.

Happy Christmas everyone. We can be each other's angels. Let's stick together.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ana will be three next week. She is so confused about her birthday and about Christmas. She told the Sunday School teacher last week that Christmas is the celebration the birthday of the Teletubbies. Christmas cards are 'Santa birthday cards' and she says she wants a Christmas tree for her birthday (sorted).

We'll be having a party for family members but it being so close to Christmas I can't begin to contemplate arranging a party for toddlers as well. With all the confusion it won't matter so much this year, but next year it'll be an issue. So we thought about it. Ian suggested looking up her Saint's day (in Spain kids get presents on their Saint's day) and maybe having it as a time when she can have friends over for a knees-up or something.

It turned out that St. Anne's day falls in July which nicely cuts the year in half for us. I was also tickled to discover that her Saint, being the mother of the Mother, is the patron Saint, not only of women in labour (which is a personal obsession as some of you will know) but also of housewives and joiners. Joiners claimed her (I guess) because of the idea of making cool stuff from plain old ordinary stuff. Housewives maybe for the same reason. I am tempted to start telling people that we knew this before naming Ana, instead of the truth which is that there wasn't a single other female name we could agree on.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

St. Anne's

St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast is this enormous 19th century building in the middle of town. Inside there are beautiful mosaics and stained glass windows. As we arrived yesterday we noticed the spire. It looks new. It's silver and shiny and stretches high into the air. It's pretty incongrous looking and fairly ugly in a way. I was wondering what it was there for. If the old one fell down or wasn't good enough why bother with a new spire?
In the church I used to go to someone once told me that spires were a signal of spiritual authority. Whichever church had the biggest spire had more authority over the demons and devils of the town. Thankfully (they added) the Catholic church spire was slightly shorter than the Protestant cathedral's. I would guess that the phallic authority idea is indeed what's behind the idea of having a church spire.

Yesterday I sat in my space and watched the people going up for communion, coming back, the choir taking their places, the priests taking theirs, all moving and having someplace to be. Maybe religion isn't about hypocrisy all the time. Maybe it's not about victory or goodness, whatever that is. Maybe it's just about getting through. Clinging to that spire like a mast.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hey Look

Funny. Spotted this article by Lucy Mangan in today's Guardian. Lucy, get the shed. Don't wait for the grant. Use your credit card! You'll never look back!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Scary Holidays!

This is a bit scary for me. But Ana insisted we do a pumpkin and she totally loves it. She's afraid of the hot tap and the hoover but not halloween as it happens.

It is the half term holidays thank God. I am home with somewhere around 125 papers to mark. Did they grace the light in my shed this afternoon? Did they heckaslike! Instead I spent a glorious two hours drawing pictures, watched over by Saint Michael of Stype and serendaded by Gomez. Total luxury.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rufus Wainwright - Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk

Forgot to mention. Saw Rufus last month. Possibly a perfect performance.

Long Time No Blog

Hey there mommas.

It has been some time. This is due to many things. It's been mighty busy since the start of September. Amongst other things I've gone back to work two days a week (which is more like three days really) and Ana and Ian both got sick a few weeks ago. And then my wee sister had to have her baby when she was just 26 weeks pregnant. I won't into details but it was a dramatic week resulting in the arrival of baby Megan (weight 1 lb, 2 oz). Mum and baby are hanging in there! Mags is home from the hospital and Megan will have to stay there for a while. She wasn't meant to be out of the womb until the New Year so as you can imagine things are maybe a bit confusing for her right now.....

Here's some pics you lovely chicks.

Autumn is here, my shed is here and we be painting.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

birthday cake

It is my birthday, so as Walt Whitman never said, I celebrate myself and google myself. This year I found:

Photos of a birthday party from a witches' coven group, one of whom is called Shirley.

A news story about a 15 year old girl who shares my name and who decided not to stay at home on a particular day, thus avoiding death when a plane crashed into her house.

My story on the Greenbelt website! (Hurray! First time I've googled me and actually found me!)

An article about ice fishing.

This picture:

Fitting, I think you'll agree.

Many thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday. Thanks for the cocktails, the intergalactic songs, the seaweed, the good wishes....


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

sewing a rainbow at greenbelt

I spent most of the Saturday sewing many metres of scarves together for the ikon event. I don't know the exact measurements but there must have been over 40 metres donated from ikon members, friends, family etc. Thanks so much to everyone!

I found a shady spot and laid them all out end to end.

Then I sewed them and rolled them up for later that evening.

Meanwhile others were making the 'Tower of Truth' dress for Jayne to wear.

More words later. First day back at school today and going to Donegal on Friday so lots to do. My feet still hurt from all those late night walks to the 'nice' toilets at the top of the campsite. Click on the 'some photos' link to your right to see a couple more of ikon at greenbelt.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Greenbelt '07

I'm just home and have to get ready for work tomorrow, so I can't say much now. Lots to say though. Here's some pics of our ragged bunch of lovelies. Stole the one of laydee Jane and the winged Cary from Cary's blog.

Get back to you when the washin's done....

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Hendrix Years Revisited

Yup. That's me at the back with the Leo Sayer. Sister and cousins also included.

Thanks to Mags for the memory. I love this photo.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Books and Telly

Firstly. I was right about my Harry Potter prediction which makes me glad I didn't write about it last time. I am really glad I was right (and not just because of the being-right-for-once). I really really wanted the thing that I thought might be the case to be the case. I love it when a plan comes together.

And then. I have been in Spain this week. I am whiter than ever. This is mainly because of factor35 but also because I spent a lot of time indoors sleeping or reading Harry Potter. It was a good holiday. Constant sun doesn't mean a lot to me personally but being in the sea and on the beach and in the pool makes Ana very happy indeed and a happy Ana is a happy Anamomma. Apart from sleeping and Pottering the other great great Great thing that I stumbled across this week was

House. Why hadn't I heard of this before? Maybe I had and didn't listen. When Ian suggested giving it a go I have to say I had reservations. Hugh Laurie, funny guy, but could I ever see him in any other role than the prince regent in BlackadderII ('I'm happy as a Frenchman who's invented a pair of self-removing trousers')? Not to mention that in House he would be playing an American doctor. I really didn't think I'd be able to buy it. He has always been so English. I was wrong though (see what I mean? Always wrong about this stuff!) We have seen four episodes so far and The West Wing is going to have to be postponed for a while longer I think....

Think Cracker in a hospital with a better looking protagonist. It is less dark than Cracker but with just as many psychological treats. And almost as much gore I might add. This I can put up with for the sake of watching Hugh Laurie (who I didn't realise could act this well. Sorry Laurie) skulk about a hospital with the dream boy of my teenhood (Robert Sean Leonard), a woman who I recognise from The West Wing and some guy who I'm sure used to be in Neighbours as they try to solve the mysteries of human physiology ... Seriously, it's good. Funny, clever, ironic, intriguing, human....

Also nearing the end of the first season of Carnivale. I fear it is going the way of 'Lost' (ie. nowhere really), but unlike Lost I want to watch it anyway because it's so lovely and well shot, well acted, well spoken. And of course I love all the religious references and the Steinbeck feel of it all. Dust to dust. It is really nice work. I'm holding back from posting the Yeats poem again but in case you missed it the first time have a gander here. All things circus freak will always make me think of this poem. Got to always lie down where all the ladders start.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's been a long time comin'

Sorry for the delay. Summer and all that. Here's what I've been up to:

  • Took Ana swimming for the first time. I think it was the most exciting day of her life thus far. Goes down as one of mine too perhaps.
  • Have been reading Harry Potter but only just starting the final book now. No spoilers! I am saving it for a day or two. I am so excited. My theory is (edit: I have deleted this as ian protested. he hates me voicing my theories about the way books/ films will turn out. I don't know why, they are normally wrong). I can explain this theory, and it does go beyond my love of Alan Rickman and the beautiful nomenclature of 'Severus', but I don't want to talk about it. Let's not talk about it, OK? Please!

  • Working hard for Ikon. Very excited about the Greenbelt gig now!
  • Clearing out the garden. Uprooted a big scary tree with Ian. Took a good few hours of digging, pick axing, stomping, shoving etc. One broken shovel and a lot of sweat and it's gone. The nice tree surgeon took care of the others (in about 10 seconds with his fancy uprooting machine). We now have a garden instead of a jungle and there is room for a SHED! I am going to have a shed. It's going to be MY SHED! A shed of one's own! Woo hoo!
  • Reading 'Blankets' by Craig Thompson (many thanks Cary). I wish great graphic novels weren't so damn quick to read. It is fantastic. Any suggestions for other graphic novels of this ilk (autobiograhical or at least not sci-fi or fantasy etc.) would be most welcome. I have read 'Maus', 'Persepolis' and 'Ghost World' and I don't want 'Blankets' to be the last one. They have all been wonderful. And too quick in the reading.
  • Getting a story I wrote on the Greenbelt website! Another 'Woo Hoo!'
And apart from all this, getting wet in the rain like everyone else and contemplating the year ahead in school, not running very often and discovering Facebook, liking 'Carnivale' a lot and not liking 'the West Wing' quite as much as I want to (conversations need to be had about this with the die hard fans out there; Why do I look at Martin Sheen as the president and think of Robin Williams as Mr Keating?!), going to the cinema with Ian for the first time in a very long time (to see Harry Potter- fab), seeing Foy Vance in concert and realising how long it's been since I saw any live music and loving being able to find a quiet spot on the floor with a view directly to the stage where I could sit on my own and doodle for a while... lovely lovely.....

So it's been a good summer despite the crappy weather.

Get back to you when the shed's here maybe.....

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


' Look! Balloons!'
(magnetic particles on plastic)

Blurry phone pic of Ana's first 'real' picture (by this I mean 'picture that mummys and other stupid adults recognise as a meaningful object). I'm well impressed. Hope this doesn't mean the end of the splodgy paintings though.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

alien grace

Difference by Mark Doty

The jellyfish
float in the bay shallows
like schools of clouds,

a dozen identical -- is it right
to call them creatures,
these elaborate sacks

of nothing? All they seem
is shape, and shifting,
and though a whole troop

of undulant cousins
go about their business
within a single wave's span,

every one does something unlike:
this one a balloon
open on both ends

but swollen to its full expanse,
this one a breathing heart,
this a pulsing flower.

This one a rolled condom,
or a plastic purse swallowing itself,
that one a Tiffany shade,

this a troubled parasol.
This submarine opera's
all subterfuge and disguise,

its plot a fabulous tangle
of hiding and recognition:
nothing but trope,

nothing but something
forming itself into figures
then refiguring,

sheer ectoplasm
recognizable only as the stuff
of metaphor. What can words do

but link what we know
to what we don't,
and so form a shape?

Which shrinks or swells,
configures or collapses, blooms
even as it is described

into some unlikely
marine chiffon:
a gown for Isadora?

Nothing but style.
What binds
one shape to another

also sets them apart
-- but what's lovelier
than the shapeshifting

transparence of like and as:
clear, undulant words?
We look at alien grace,

by any determined form,
and we say: balloon, flower,

heart, condom, opera,
lampshade, parasol, ballet.
Hear how the mouth,

so full
of longing for the world,
changes its shape

Thursday, June 21, 2007

very knitty week

I've spent the last week indoors being a bit miserable and ill. Picked up some viral thing from Ana which made me all hot and cold and gave me a sore throat. I still kind of feel like I'm underwater. Anyway, in between sleeping and watching too much TV I knitted this for Ian. It's from a pattern I got on the internet but for anyone else thinkin' of pickin' up sticks I recommend the Stitch n' Bitch Handbook. Very readable and ace for a total beginner.

BTW, I have lost the charger for the camera so all photos of late have been taken with my phone.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

There's Magic in the Night....

If you've got a minute please have a look at the video opposite.

I've been looking for this song for ages but all I can find is a video. Does anyone know if it's on an album somewhere?

So, so lovely.

Nick Hornby said this:

'Maybe the reason Thunder Road has sustained me for years is that, despite its energy and volume and fast cars and hair, it somehow manages to sound elegiac, and the older I get the more I can hear that. When it comes down to it, I suppose that I too believe that life is momentous and sad but not destructive of all hope, and maybe that makes me a self-dramatizing depressive, or maybe it makes me a happy idiot, but either way Thunder Road knows how I feel and who I am, and that, in the end, is one of the consolations of art.'

I hear ya Nick. This version of the song does it for me.

So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

colouring in

Have been doing some more colouring in for my friend's class who are writing story books for their children. This one concerns two professors (one nice, one grumpy), a pair of magic glasses and three female ninjas.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

get thee to a runnery!*

Wanted to plug this book. Does exactly what is says on the tin (so far). I'm not exactly at Willow's level yet but it's quite fun to be following a fitness programme that doesn't seem as if it was designed merely to mock me. If I can do this anyone can. Don't look for me on the main roads though, I've been frequenting quiet country lanes at twilight, pretending I'm out for a walk if a rogue tractor passes by!

*with thanks to DrG for the title

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Took Ana down to the beach this afternoon. She saw a girl with a kite and chased them both the whole length of the beach shouting, 'The butterfly! The butterfly!'

Sometimes the days are very, very good :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

bohemian! it's bohemian, ok?!

I swear I'm going to have that made into a banner for my kitchen wall.

7.30am this morning and I was lamenting being awake. Only those with small children are awake at this time on a Sunday, I thought. We were at my cousin's wedding yesterday and even though Ana had been up (with Ian. Thanks!) since 5.30am that morning and didn't go to bed until 10pm, still she wanted to get up and rock at 7.30 this morning. Lordy.

Then I read this on Sarah's blog and felt immediately better. I am thinking of you, Mairi, and everyone else who walks the path of warpy thoughts between the washing machine and the imagination. What did Charles Bukowski know about getting up at 5.30am on a Saturday against his will, eh?!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Poems For Adam and Eve

Following the Bukowski poem of the previous post I sat down at that Happy Place desk of mine and wrote a poem. You can read it here if you want along with a couple of others that I wrote a while ago and added today. Hoping to add some more in a bit. Happy Sunday xx

Thursday, April 26, 2007

happy place happenstance

After writing the 'Happy Place' post earlier today someone who hadn't read it showed me the following poem and it made me laugh. So true.

air and light and time and space

"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

Charles Bukowski

Happy Place

A few days ago The Harbour of Ourselves (sometimes we deserve our full title, right CS?) posted about his 'happy place' asking people to respond. I thought about this for ages. The Father's post about Nendrum also holds resonance with me although I haven't been there for many years. There is at least one other place I could think of, but this is the one for now.

Over Easter I took my desk from the study and put it in the bedroom. In the study it was piled full and stuffed underneath with boxes and bags full of 'stuff' needing to be sorted or chucked out. Lest it was to become a dreadful metaphor for my existence I decided to make a move. The boxes are still waiting but they are in a different place and above you can see a picture of my desk as it is now. It only has stuff on it that I need or want. There is nothing underneath it so I can actually sit at it. Sometimes I let the cat sleep on it but apart from this privilege no-one else is allowed to leave 'stuff' on my desk. It is near my books. It has a beautiful view of the hills and an old Anglican church and round tower. It is a place full of peace and possibility.

If only I could get round to writing anything at it....

Sunday, April 22, 2007

ikon on the beach

Words later. 'To sleep is also to live'.....

Thursday, April 19, 2007

do you like green eggs and ham?

that sam i am, that sam i am
i do not like that sam i am....

But my two-year old is positively in love with him. I have now read Green Eggs and Ham about twelve thousand times. I used to love this book. Someday she will have a child who will need this to be read to them e.v.e.r.y.s.i.n.g.l.e.n.i.g.h.t........

In the meantime, to amuse myself, I am developing a rather interesting and rather camp Glaswegian accent as I read. I hope it doesn't disturb her too much. Help ma boab!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

the ministry of time travel continues

Doctor Who just gets better and better. The underlying theme of this series appears to be recovery, or maybe the struggle to keep up, as the Doctor begins journeying again after the loss of Rose.

At the Last Supper on Tuesday night Becky Dudley talked about Easter and the possibility (and the struggle towards the possiblility) of something called hope. She defined grace as 'God's confidence in us that we can change'.

I am watching a family TV sci-fi drama, early on saturday evening. It has cat nuns and spaceships, scary monsters (and nice ones) and magic.

And hymns.


Tonight's episode of Doctor Who contained my favourite hymn; one which I have only heard in church at funerals, but which deserves an airing at many other times in my opinion:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Some of the last words spoken to the Doctor on tonight's episode?

'You are not alone...'

Amen, Rev. Davies...

Monday, April 09, 2007

we see things as we are

Excuse the quality of this picture, it was taken with my phone. Last night's ikon was (IMHO) a fairly beautiful gathering involving duvets, candles, some gorgeous singing, stories tough and tender, liturgy, coincidently magical visuals and, of course, chocolate.

Now off to bed to recover (again) from this wretched cold. Hope everyone's Easter was blessed. This always feels like the start of a new year to me.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

An excerpt from Giles Fraser's piece in the Guardian a few years ago:

From his house in South Molton Street, William Blake could see processions of the condemned making their way up Oxford Street to the gallows at Tyburn. In what Blake took to be the ultimate betrayal of Christ, the church justified this slaughter by appealing to Christ's sufferings on the cross. Blake was characteristically fierce in his denunciation: "Every religion that preaches vengeance for sin is the religion of the enemy and avenger and not the forgiver of sin and their God is Satan."

Like many others before and since, Blake drew upon an alternative reading of Easter. Here the defining feature of Christ's moral teaching is an opposition to the retributive ethic encapsulated in the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Rather, Christ offered an ethic based upon forgiveness - on a refusal to become a mirror image to the violent other. In doing this he threatened to put a great deal of established religion out of business. For this established religion, based as it was on the practice of cultic sacrifice, was a way for the community to launder its own proclivity for violent reciprocity. Religion provided a safe redirection of the violent impulse and its temporary catharsis in the bloody sacrifice of small animals.

Jesus, however, takes up an alternative tradition found in the psalms and the writings of the prophets: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice," Jesus repeats from the book of Hosea. He thus attacks the religious authorities and is murdered for so doing. Jesus does not oppose the brutality of his treatment by an equal and opposite show of force. And in not returning violence with violence he initiates a fragile and vulnerable community of non-retaliation known as the kingdom of God. "No future without forgiveness" is how Archbishop Desmond Tutu summed up the theology that decisively shaped the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as it sought to dismantle apartheid. The same spirit is just as necessary in taking forward the aptly named Good Friday agreement.

That's what I think too, and yet every time I think about this way of looking at atonement I also find the words of a Maya Angelou poem nipping at my heel: 'here then is my Christian lack, if I'm struck then I'll strike back'. The two exist within me for sure and I have to say I find it hard to know which I'd like to display for example to my daughter. I watch her at parent-toddler group sometimes when other kids come over and grab toys from out of her hand. She invariably lets them do it without fuss and I invariably think (loudly) take it back! .....

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Short Story for Easter

I read this a couple of weeks ago and really liked it a lot. It is the only thing I have read by Chekov but I'm hoping to put that right pretty soon. Hope you like it too.

Wholly Weak

It's Easter and I am trying to avoid chocolate. It's not going so well, frankly. And this month's Ikon should see me crumble entirely. Please come; you're all very welcome. And the less chocolate there is for me, the better!

ikon for Easter. Like (bitter) water for chocolate.

"We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anaïs Nin

You are invited to hear with your mouths.

Join the next gathering, xocolatl, for an evening of stories that explore how the bitter can taste sweet.

Where? The Black Box
When? 20:00
On? Easter Sunday - 8th April 2007

We hope you can make it. Please wear your best socks.

From - Cary, Erin, Jayne, Kellie, Sarah and Shirley.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Yay Fauns

Last night I went to see Pan's Labyrinth; a rather beautiful and weird film set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. In the story the central character, a young girl named Ofelia, is led to an underground labyrinth where she meets a frightening creature, a faun, who tells her she can become a princess of the underground if she completes three tasks.

Ofelia's fantastical journey is interspersed with her 'real' life; her anxieties about her ailing, pregnant mother and the misery of a brutish stepfather. In the end it is Ofelia's belief in the good that saves her. This is a fairytale, after all; there is a happy ending. But it is not a happy ending that comes without struggle. Ofelia's child-ish-ness is apparent in her willingness to trust as far as it seems the faun is trustworthy, but her faith in the good is not unshakable. Her mother's fatalistic view of life has not overtaken Ofelia but you get the impression that this is due to a conscious decision on Ofelia's part to hope in something better. It is not her naivety that brings her home, it is her faith, her imagination.

As I thought about this on the way home I remembered something Jesus said about no-one being able to enter the kingdom of heaven unless they came as a little child. Perhaps this is something like what he was getting at; that imagination is to be given more respect than we as adults normally afford it; that perhaps hope and faith and imagination are all part of the same life-giving gift, and that perhaps this gift is within us, waiting for our child-ish-ness to catch hold.

Since Ana's birth I have been obsessed by the idea that the physical and spiritual are more a part of the same thing than I once thought. I woke up this morning with one arm by my side and one arm (freezing) stretched out above my head and it made me think of Raphael's School of Athens.

It's a good movie. May our souls keep getting younger.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oh, the water.... part two

I went for a walk in the forest today accompanied by a Doctor Who audio drama, courtesy of the Transatlantic Library (many thanks to Ray).

I find it really hard to listen to audio books. Without the benefit of something to hold my eyes my mind usually wanders off somewhere else. I always think I'll be able to listen to them in bed but then I fall asleep. I did drift off a bit today at points but it was kind of nice to let the story wash over me somewhat. There's always the rewind button if you miss an important bit.

The thing I like about Doctor Who (one of the things) is how it is often the case that the Doctor is the only person who can solve whatever problem they are facing but it is also often the case that the problem has been partially his fault in the first place. Sometimes I think his character is extra-human rather than non-human. Maybe that's what comes of having more than one heart.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's called liturgy

'We don't define what we meant.
Other people do.
The near and dear.
There's only other people after all.'

Read the whole shebang here. I am grateful for writing like this.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oh, the water

For Tarticus; thanks for this.

Sometimes things come together in such minute ways as to give you just enough of a glimpse of grace to keep on keepin' on.

Last night I finished reading Frederick Buechner's 'The Storm'. It is hard for me to describe what kept me reading this book to the finish. I think it mainly had to do with the writer's undoubted affection for his main character. It was not the best story I had ever read but there was something of real human care in every line that made it feel worth going on to the next. As if it was just a story, unremarkable as most of our stories are, but unique as they are too, and therefore remarkable enough to be worth sharing and listening to.

It is very much worth getting to the end of The Storm.

It is raining today and I drove home with Van Morrison singing something incomprehensible about jelly roll (someone explain this to me, please!) and there was that little moment of peace; a shadow cast from the future where things comes together and make sense.

Monday, February 19, 2007


by Ruth Padel

He's gone. She can't believe it, can't go on.
She's going to give up painting. So she paints
Her final canvas, total-turn-off
Black. One long
Obsidian goodbye.
A charcoal-burner's Smirnoff,
The mirror of Loch Ness
Reflecting the monster back to its own eye.

But something's wrong. Those mad
Black-body particles don't sing
Her story of despair, the steel and
Garnet spindle
Of the storm.
This black has everything its own sweet way.
Where's the I'd-like-to-kill-
You conflict? Try once more, but this time add

A curve to all that straight. And opposition-
White. She paints black first. A grindstone belly
Hammering a smaller shape
Beneath a snake
Of in-betweening light.
'I feel like this. I hope that you do, too.
Black crater. Screw you. Kiss.'
And sees a voodoo flicker, where two worlds nearly touch

And miss. That flash, where white
Lets black get close, that dagger of not-quite contact,
Catspaw panic, quiver on the wheat
Field before thunder-
There. That's it.
That's her own self, in paint,
Splitting what she was from what she is.
As if everything that separates, unites.

I read this poem for the first time today (I love poetry archive! Follow the title link). It blew me away.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

happy valentine's day

Hey it's Valentine's Day and I've been to the doc's with a pain in my heart. Nope, not even figuratively (although the good doctor is always a welcome remedy for such matters). Well ok, I'm hamming it up a little, it's more like a pain in the top of my stomach. And in the middle of my stomach. And all down my ribs and back. Actually it feels a lot like I've had a good kicking. Blood tests next week but the lovely doctor said she reckons it is merely some damage caused by meds I've been taking for something else. Splendid! Although I am enjoying the irony a little.

Thank God the Hoff still loves me.

Happy Valentine's Day youse lot!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

if i exorcise my devils my angels may leave too

Forgive me for publishing yet another picture of this painting. I wanted to say something about its creation. Someone almost asked me about it once so I'm taking that as a cue...

Something I have been thinking about for some time is the idea that our personalities cannot easily be divided up into the parts we like to label when we talk about ourselves; ‘sum your self up in 5 words’, that sort of thing. I can’t remember when I realised this about myself, but somewhere in the not-too-distant past I became aware that some of the parts of me that I was desperate to be rid of had their roots in the same place as other parts which I wanted to keep. So maybe I wanted to better at being sociable in the way that I see others can engage with their group at a party or in the pub. But to lose that weird part of me which some cannot accept would also mean losing the eccentricities that other appreciate; perhaps it would mean losing the way I can’t help looking at things; it would mean not being able to write the way I write now or not being able to paint this picture. And I don’t want to lose those things.

A wise person once said to me that the greatest eccentricity lies in constantly striving to conform. It doesn’t mean not striving for anything. And it doesn’t mean never trying to improve on weak areas. But I think maybe it’s dangerous to despise any part of one’s self before looking to see if the roots of it are also the birthplace of some uniquely beautiful facet of personality.

This is what this picture is about. In the end I called it 'The Four Chambers of a Failing Heart'. Light is meaningless without the juxtaposition of dark. Not that we enjoy the dark, but perhaps we can learn to respect our struggles with those things that are hard to speak of.

(Pee Ess My brother-in-law framed this and I think he did a lovely job. Thanks Barry!)


Many thanks to my step-neice, Emma, for taking these photos. There are other pieces I didn't get pictures of (notably Cary's collection which I thought was beautiful) but I'm hoping Ricky's will be on the web at some stage. Very nice evening with some lovely poetry from Padraig and a very-Pete homily on the meaning of Ikon.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Your invitation

It's tomorrow night at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.
And free wine too.