Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Look what I got!




A special gift from some special friends, who live in San Diego but I think source these artefacts from South America (she is Guatemalan by birth). He has a lot of photos of them on his facebook page. I'm not into skulls; most of them leave me cold. But I found this piece intriguing when I first saw it photographed many months ago, and now that it has come to be with me, I have fallen in love with it. It is by me all the time, and I can't resist touching and holding it often. It's malachite, a large piece, with the natural markings used brilliantly by the carver to create the skull shape. I photographed it with a small piece of malachite beside it for comparison.

Packing for a house move, I haven't time to tune in properly; but can feel energy and bonding. A most amazing object! I think it must be very old; the surface of the stone is quite pitted. Skulls like this were made by tribal people long ago, as portals and talismans.

I believe it's meant to represent an extraterrestrial skull. At first I thought the piece on top was a head-dress; but no, I think it's part of the anatomy. It seems to be androgynous, as the energy sometimes feels female, sometimes male.

Have to find out more from my friends when I can, but they're busy having a baby any minute, so I might have to wait till later.

Today, at our Litha celebration, coven members tuned in to see what we could pick up. Ancient and extra-terrestrial we all got, in various ways. In addition, one person kept seeing high peaks, another saw a woman with very long hair, I saw youngsters who seemed to be members of the tribe who made it. I also felt that strong tingling at the temples which signals expansion of consciousness, but pulled myself out of the meditation as we didn't have time available for such deep work.

There's much more to uncover, I'm sure. I'm taking a little time out from packing just now, to celebrate receiving such a wondrous gift. Further explorations must wait until we're in our new home.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We're Moving Again!

Being Age Pensioners, we’ve been on a waiting list for many years for low-rent accommodation via the State Housing Department, and finally we’ve got it! Although we have enjoyed being here on the coast for the last five and a half years, we’ll be very happy to move nearer our beloved Tweed River again, and our favourite magic mountain, Mt Warning (so called, we are told, because it was the first thing Captain Cook saw when approaching this coast). In the new home we’ll say hello to the mountain every time we drive out of our street, and again when we drive back.

We saw the outside of the place on Sunday (because we couldn't wait) and the inside today, and we love it! It’s the front unit of a duplex, in a quiet, leafy court. We met the lady in the back unit, who is very nice. She has a huge, thriving rosemary bush. I like having my namesake plant where I’m living, and it’s been a while since that happened. (It’s a sign! It’s a sign!) There are parks nearby for walking, a big local store and a petrol station, and we’re just a few minutes out of town. We’ve lived around the town of Murwllumbah for the last 16 years, ever since we left Melbourne and moved to this part of the country. Our present location is the furthest out we’ve been.

When we moved to the coast, after loving the hills for about nine years, we said, “Yes, it’ll be good to be near the ocean again for a while” and so it has been – but note the “for a while”. Lately I’ve started itching to be closer to the mountain once more; I've begun to miss driving along the river. ( I grew up in Tasmania, a tiny island of mountains and rivers, small towns and villages, forests and rural districts, where you can’t go far in any direction without meeting the ocean. So I love all those things. (I only didn’t like the cold weather!))

We need to be in asap. If Housing Department properties stand vacant too long, people start complaining. We’ll have to break our lease here, though not by much. It was 21st January that we moved in here. The Department has written us a letter to show our landlord, saying we are required to be in before the end of the month. In fact, with Christmas coming up, it could be hard to get a removalist, so they will probably be a little flexible. Still, it’s all about to happen, and I don’t expect to be online much for a while. We’ll hope that our service provider doesn’t take so long over the transfer this time! After that – well, it’s a ten year lease, so we’ll settle down to a new era of stability and security.

Last time all the packing and cleaning half-killed us, and a number of our friends too. We moved in and went to bed for a few days! So this time, with a bit more money stashed away than we had then, we are going to get a carrier who will do all the packing for us, and we’ll have this place professionally cleaned. I still have to wash curtains, and go through my great hoard of papers to see what to chuck out. My darling can’t believe I am finally going to let go of the 15th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1977 – but only because I found out I can now get it all and more on DVD.

We’ll actually be only a half hour’s drive from where we are now, and the Neighbourhood Centre here will pay my travel exes to stay on as a volunteer, continuing to facilitate the writers’ group and fill the role of Secretary of the Management Committee. Just when I am about to leave, I am also thinking of starting a spiritual development group and a Mac users’ group! Both have been requested, particularly the spiritual group. For a few years now, people have been coming up to me and asking if I’d start one. Finally, as I’m about to leave the area, I get my act together!

We are also going to keep seeing the chiropractor here: best one we ever found – and we’ve found some good ones. And we’ll continue to see the psychologist here too. Every time I start going into nostalgia about the things we have to leave behind, I stop myself and say, “Hang on, you’ll be coming back twice a week!”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Poetry and Other Adventures

At a recent session with PsychLady I spoke of my passionate love of beauty, all kinds of beauty, and my sorrow at not being beautiful myself. I explained that this is why I began writing poetry when I was very young – I wanted to add to the beauty of the world, and for me poetry was the most beautiful thing a human could create.

She pointed out the obvious: that poetry is my beauty, and the expression of my beauty. I had to admit that if I could swap right now and become a famous beauty for the way I look but lose the poetic talent, I would not swap, not for a moment. For homework she gave me an assignment to write a poem about poetry being my beauty. I didn’t write it until a week later, just before my next appointment with her, but it had been germinating away in the subconscious all the while.

What I wrote was Living Beauty. I was very pleased with it. It didn’t need revising, and I had done risky things with repetition and made them work. In various ways it felt like a quantum leap. Other people liked it too, and “got” it – even poetry haters in my writers’ group. All very satisfying!

Perhaps, after that, the only way was down? Anyway, a couple of days later I started looking through the last four years’ output (since publication of the last book). It was horribly disconcerting! As described in Crisis, I had suddenly lost the ability to “hear” my own poetic voice. I knew I’d been in a rather plain and prosey phase for some time, but I had thought it was still working as poetry. Now, it was as if I was coming to the poems as a new reader – and I couldn’t find any rhythm in them, any music. The language seemed ridiculously banal. Flaws leapt up and hit me in the eye. I realized that I’ve been churning stuff out quite prolifically, posting first drafts and never going back and working on them further. As for the things I had filed as drafts for later revision, they seemed pathetic, not worth trying to do anything with.

This was of course horrifying. My identity and self-worth are bound up with the poetry. And I wondered, in shock, if the friends who had made positive comments on my efforts were just being kind. You must have had the online experience of seeing some self-deluded folks who write atrocious verses, and all their friends rush to comment how wonderful their work is! Could that be me too, after all?

Then I noticed that I was pretty apathetic about things in general. None of the things that normally bring me joy seemed even vaguely interesting. I recognized what I was feeling as the way other people have described bouts of depression – something I have been lucky enough to have avoided so far. I don’t know which came first, the mood or my inability to like my poems. (“So,” said PsychLady yesterday, “You have gone from denying your beauty to denying your poetry too, which is the expression of it.”)

I’m grateful indeed for friends who read Crisis and rushed to disagree with it! Canadian poet Pearl Pirie said particularly wise things:

yeah, that's a familiar sensation/perception for me.

sometimes it's lasted months but it passes. generally means I'm breaking thru to some new inner level, a reorientation as part before growth phase.

a lot of stock is placed in the world poem. communication matters. call it what you will in finer level after that.


Finally some perspective re-emerged, and I realised that many of the people who praise my poetry happen to be poets whose own work I admire. That has to count for something! It’s a very different thing from lovers of the trite and sentimental praising doggerel. And my non-poet readers are people whose taste and intelligence I respect in other matters. Sorry, everybody, for insulting your judgment even briefly (not to mention your authenticity).

That being said, it wouldn’t hurt at all to go into a revision phase now and get some of those poems to the absolute best they can be. I thought I would take a sabbatical from writing new stuff (apart from the haiku and tanka, which whole groups of people use to spark their own). But PsychLady said the same as some of my friends: “Write about the emptiness, the nothing, the no-words”. Well, I would if I could, but I think it might have gone already!

And the other adventures? We’re liable to be moving house again real soon! But this post is long enough. I’ll write about the move tomorrow. Suffice to say, we’re excited. This shift is the one we’ve been waiting for.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Margaret, Are You Grieving?

I thought it was my dear husband's ageing, deterioration and inevitable death I was grieving for these recent months. And that's true enough.

I just noticed that it's also my own ageing, deterioration and inevitable death that is causing me grief.

It is myself I mourn for.

********************

And no, my name is not Margaret. But I expect many readers will recognise the quotation:

Spring and Fall
By Gerard Manly Hopkins

To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.



Sunday, December 06, 2009

Rewriting the Bible

byThom Moon 10

(Reposted with Thom's permission, because I like the sentiments!)

Every generation does-apocryrfpha to King James
to GOOD NEWS FOR MODERN MAN
Now a Conservative Thinktank is purging liberalism
from the flesh of bones of belief
LABOR is replaced by VOLUNTEER
That parable about the rich getting in to Heaven
like a camel getting through the eye of a needle?
That has been explained as a geographical gate
one that merchants used upon entering Jerusalem
Purging liberalism has always required scholars-
"enhanced interrogation techniques"replaced torture
"burning the village to save the village"(Vietnamdoublespeak
"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!"(Iraq invasion doublespeak)
By such language-all who respond to invasive techniques
become "militants"-and if they resist='Terrorists!"
(unless Americans firghting a War Of Independence-
they (when the war was won)become PATRIOTS
Language has always been a slave of masters
Censorship and editing of William Shakespeare
to delete the bawdy and massage Press Releases
Now we have FAUX NEWS and bully pulpits
Bishops who deny communion to those who disagree
We resort to poetry when prose is dull as politics
Spark art uncensored and deemed irrelevant
until Bibles become Korans and cartoonists stabbed
May there be no Holy Texts to proscribe our disobedience!
FOR SALMAN RUSHDIE's FATWA Dec 5,2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cat Update

Well he's home. We are to keep him very quiet for 10 days, confine him to the spare room rather than let him negotiate our split level floors, make sure he doesn't jump, and definitely not let him outside. So the first thing that happened was that he wriggled out of our grasps and flew out the bedroom door before we could close it, down the split level and out through the cat door into the garden. By which time I was in tears. Fortunately he didn't feel like going any further and we carted him back inside. He has now settled down, and has claimed that spare room and ordered Freya out of it!

Some hours later, he is vastly reassured, purring happily after lots of loving, and happy to rest on the soft new rug we got him today.

He is still somewhat uncomfortable though. We have pain-killers and antibiotics for him, and his stitches come out in 10 days. He hasn't got a bandage on his leg, as he was so annoyed by it that the vet decided to take it off again.

So wish us luck with keeping him quiet!

And many thanks to all for the well-wishing, prayers and healing vibes.

(I just now picked up the cat carry case, to put it away. Freya, who was hassling me for more dinner, suddenly slunk away quietly and hid under the furniture. Wherever he’s been, she doesn’t want to go!)