this is a bloghop and I am probably doing it wrong!
edit: this is the original page:
this is a bloghop and I am probably doing it wrong!
edit: this is the original page:
Anyone who clicked the Grow Your Own Gorgeousness link in the least few days will have noticed that it has been made private. This is for unforeseen and complex reasons but should my review of the book have tickled your fancy, please get in touch with me privately and I can make sure you have the means of getting hold of a copy.
A new blog caught my eye the other day: Midnight Fire. The article written about self publishing really resonated with my own thoughts. Go and explore.
This one is for Shafali….I dreamed about mountains the other night and it made me remember this poem;
I can see mountains
Beyond the distant trees:
Snow-capped and stark.
Twig and branch
And budding leaf
Obscure my view,
Soften and distort it.
The spring wind blows
And my mountains
Scud along briskly,
Vapourous and thin,
Mere horizon clouds.
But there is a world
Beyond the confines
Of my daily life,
Filled with wonders:
Mountain, lake and forest,
Desert, tundra and sea
Await my searching mind
Beyond my garden fence
And my limited thoughts.
I’ve been working very hard the last few weeks, teaching and touring with my students and I’d forgotten quite how exhausting I find it and how much it takes out of me. While I haven’t taught all day every day, I usually come home and the first thing I have to do is prepare the lesson for the next day. It’s hand-to-mouth stuff, responding to both the requests of a class and to what I have observed they may need. There’s not a lot of me left over many evenings, and that tends to be taken up with dealing with family needs of one sort of another. I’m not exactly a workaholic but to be honest, if I do something I like to do it properly and no stint at it, so I undoubtedly do more than I am paid for at work, for the sake of both professional pride in a job well done and for the students. Today I said goodbye to the class I have taught for the last 3 or so weeks. I cried a tiny bit too. They got cookies and brownies, though.
I’m finding it hardest at this time of year to find that delicate balance between allowing my creative self to flourish and putting her into a state of suspended animation until the summer is over. Some evenings, if I have been home by lunchtime, I have been able to write for a few hours. The trouble with this is that like any delightful experience, I don’t want it to end and then am unable to get to sleep at a sensible time to allow for a 6am start the next day.
Now the sheer tiredness is starting to take over. I went to give blood last week and discovered that while not fully anaemic, I was close enough for them to send me away without taking any blood. I have had a few other health niggles and now, I have one of those annoying colds that is just hovering there, making me sneeze and giving me sore sinuses.
Creatively, I am stuck too. There are ideas there but they are too nebulous to really focus on and I suspect a self-protection mechanism is stopping me. The number of visitors here has dropped to a low number and I feel like a sea- going vessel that relies on the wind, when the wind suddenly drops and the sails go slack and empty.
I’m sitting in a silent sea, with nothing but seagulls for company and no wind in my sails.
What to do? Well, blowing into the sails is a rather futile gesture and weather magic is unpredictable, so this is what I propose to do:
I shall sink anchor, see to some housekeeping aboard my boat and hunt out my fishing rod. I’m going to just slump on deck in the sunshine, see what bites and just wait. I may even go swimming.
You can’t fight the weather any more than you can fight the internal doldrums. Maybe it’s time to enjoy some down time. God knows I am about as flat at the ray below!
I was deeply touched to read the following review by Fibi:
Thank you so very much!
I have contributed a guest post about the creative life over at Journey of Life found at the link below:
I’m rather proud of this one so please go and read and comment too. I hope it helps explain the hiatuses in the life of a creative soul and perhaps some clues about the whys.
..from the Aromatic meditations book in preparation..
Sandalwood is obtained as you might guess from the wood of an exotic tree. Most sandalwood plantations are in India, though some colonies have been planted in Australia. The wood has been used for statues, beads and incense for thousands of years and the essential oil is used extensively in both aromatherapy and in Ayurvedic medicine. It has a sweet and woody aroma that is very persistent; like frankincense it is used to slow and deepen the breathing to aid meditation. It is available as essential oil but can be expensive and it can be hard to obtain high quality oil. It is also available quite readily in the form of incense sticks (joss sticks) but the same caution applies here. Many joss sticks are named Sandalwood that have very little or no sandalwood present in them and while they may smell pleasant, they will have few of the beneficial effects offered by sticks made using high quality ingredients. The wood is sometimes available as shavings or chips and may be smouldered on charcoal to release the scent. If you are lucky enough to possess beads made from sandalwood, they release the scent when warmed by the body. The daughter of a good friend brought me some beads back from India recently and I love wearing them in hot weather as they continuously emit glorious but subtle wafts of fragrance as my body heat warms them.
For this meditation I recommend using a stick of sandalwood incense. If you have problems with smoke, light the stick in the room you intend to use for your meditation and once the stick has burned for ten or so minutes, put it out and leave the room for a further ten minutes to allow the smoke but not the aroma to dissipate. Then return to your room and shut the door. Make yourself comfortable and begin your preparations for meditation. When you are ready, relax and breathe deeply of the fragrance in the air.
You are standing in a narrow street, surrounded by old buildings. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around right now and the street is very quiet and empty. The road is paved with cobblestones made shiny with centuries of feet polishing them. In front of you is a half-timbered shop with a low door and two wide windows on either side of the door. The door is slightly open and you can smell a lovely fragrance of sandalwood; indeed you can see a fine thread of smoke curling through the opening. This is very inviting and you step forward and push the door open and peer inside. Just inside the door a stick of incense is burning, filling the air with scented smoke. The shop appears to be deserted so step inside and look around you.
The shop is a fabulous emporium of arts, crafts and gifts from all around the world. For a moment, you stand entranced, unable to take it all in. There are so many things that attract the eye. Glass cases are filled with imaginative displays of jewellery, all lovingly created and set out to their best advantage. Hopi and Navajo silver lie alongside Celtic brooches set with amber. Statues are dotted around on shelves, carved from wood and bone or moulded from clay or resins. Take your time to look around and see what is there.
There’s a finely carved bookcase filled with rows of books. Some are empty journals, meant for you to write down your thoughts, though the majority are filled with the wisdom of a dozen or more cultures and philosophies. Take a moment to look through the titles and see if there is anything there that appeals to you. You may return later to the books if you choose.
Deeper into the shop, you see boxes of all different sizes and shapes, made from all different materials. Polished and worked silver and rough wooden boxes sit side by side, their lids a little open to invite you to see what they contain. Each box holds a different treasure; go and see for yourself what is in them.
You have the shop entirely to yourself today; you may look at anything you wish to. When you touch them, the locked glass display cabinets open for you. You may take out and handle whatever you like. You are trusted here.
When you have finished exploring the main body of the shop, walk further back and you will see there is a heavy crimson velvet curtain at the back. Pinned to it is a sign that says, “Welcome!” If you choose to, you may go through this curtain and see what is through there waiting to welcome you. If you prefer not to, then please go on exploring the wonders of the main shop or return to the books to browse further. I will return in a little while.
It’s time to go now so step out of the shop and into the street again. There are people bustling around, so leave the door ajar so that the scent can invite someone else in. In your hand there is a parcel; this is the gift from the shop to you. Take a moment or two to see what you have been given and then allow yourself to return to the room where you began your meditation.
Like any big city, Paris has its fair share of beggars and con artists. I find it obscene that any city in the prosperous West can allow such extreme poverty as I have seen. Paris is no worse than any but I shall never forget walking along the glittering Champs Elysee a few years ago, passing Louis Vuitton at the same time as a barefoot beggar, walking along oblivious of both the glamorous surroundings and his own rags. His feet were splashed with filth and his hair could have hidden a nest of rats. Shaming for any civilisation but the setting couldn’t have been more contrasting.
Paris swarms with beggars, most of them illegal immigrants desperate to stay alive and out of the courts. Some of the souvenir sellers are potentially violent and aggressive and the police do little to move them on. The trick is never to make eye contact and never engage in conversation or you will be pestered half to death.
A common scam is someone who comes up to you and asks if you speak English. If you agree you do, a letter and a photo of some wide-eyed children is put into your hand. The letter is a sob-story about escaping from Bosnia and leaving children behind. The beggar is almost always a young woman, sometimes pregnant or with a baby in arms. Walk away. It broke my heart. While you are talking, someone else may well be lifting your wallet.
A clever scam that I’d heard of took place here, just outside the Louvre:
You can just see the scam artist sitting on the wall waiting for a victim. She made a mistake trying me. The scam goes like this; a heavy gold men’s wedding ring is dropped in your path and as you approach, someone(in this case a woman) comes forward at a split second moment and picks it up and asks if it is yours. The idea is then someone rewards them for their “honesty” (haha) and gives them a substantial sum just to gain possession of what they think is a valuable gold ring. It isn’t; it’s made of brass and is worthless. The principle is that you can’t cheat an honest man. I said, “Not mine,” and walked on. Had I been alone, I might have suggested we take it to the Palais de Justice, not far away and hand it in. I’d probably have had abuse hurled at me if I were lucky…
Another scam for the unwary is the souvenir seller who ties on a friendship bracelet and then demands money. It’s usually tied so tightly it’s impossible to remove easily. Yet another is trying to kiss the hand of a lady, under pretext of gallantry and while doing so, removing her rings. This happened to my boss, but her rings were too tight to slide off. I never wear anything of any real monetary value when I travel, for this reason. Costume jewellery is easily replaced and has the added bonus of pissing off the thieves later!
The beggars who stand on the bridges and just simply hold out a hand are hard to avoid, and upsetting because these are usually the old and frail. I’d give money but it’s almost certainly never theirs to keep. There are gangs who “run” beggars and who take all but a tiny pittance of their earnings.
I seldom see such barefaced begging in London, because the police and the soical services make a big effort to deal with it, but I have seen rough sleepers in the mornings.
Poverty in the west is often linked to crime, organised crime at that. It saddens me that it happens but what can I do?
It’s astounding the detail you miss by just marching on, eyes ahead.
Parisians were ambivalent about the Pyramids but seem to be happy with them now. But then Napoleon had a real obession with Egypt so maybe it’s in keeping after all…
Sunlight sparkled on the clear shallow water and made it unbearably inviting on a hot, hot day…
Excuse the pasty white pins!
Note the rows of shoes…..
Coming soon: Paris scams and beggars’ tricks.
In response to Shafali’s Caricature carnival over at http://shafali.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/announcement-story-in-the-caricature-a-story-writing-blog-carnival/ I have created a little tale…..
Maude paused, wiping the sweat from her forehead, her brightly coloured beaded earrrings jingling wildly. She leaned on her spade and smiled with satisfaction.
“You’ll never make a decent gardener if you don’t put in the spade work,” he’d said, his red moon-face pushed close to hers. “And never if you dress like that! Look at those stupid earrings!”
She wondered how she’d ever found him attractive; perhaps it was his parsnips….
Well, look at me now, she thought. He should never have told me about the secrets to growing award-winning asparagus.
“Folk-lore,” he’d declared pompously, “dictates that the best asparagus beds must have a body buried in them. Feed the roots properly. But you, you’ll never grow anything but more fat.”
His sneering voice seemed to touch something primeval inside and that was when she discovered the true meaning of spadework. A single smart blow to the back of his balding head had ended those sneering put-downs forever, and the spade was very useful for digging the new asparagus bed. It had taken a while; perhaps she should have got him to do that before she’d been creative with her spade. Getting him into the hole wasn’t easy either; he was hardly a lightweight himself.
“Pot, kettle, black,” she’d muttered as she heaved him into the hole. It wasn’t quite deep enough but that foot peering out would soon be stripped to the bone by ants and then the corpse would settle deeper into the bed.
In any case, the newly planted asparagus spears would soon hide any untoward sights, but Maude’s eyes were firmly planted on the prospect of the bright red rosette at the Horticultural Show later that year, and she turned away before she saw the muddy toes twitch and wriggle and a cascade of soil rolled down the mound……