Monday, October 31, 2005


I discovered the poem Shadows, by D H Lawrence, with its autumnal resonances and its meditation on the process of death and renewal, during one of the worst times of my life. It helped then, and I often re-read it. A dark, lush, deeply mystical and ultimately hopeful poem, redolent of the period from Halloween leading up to the winter solstice.

D H Lawrence

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon
my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft strange gloom
pervades my movements and my thoughts and words
then I shall know that I am walking still
with God, we are close together now the moon's in shadow.

And if, as autumn deepens and darkens
I feel the pain of falling leaves, and stems that break in storms
and trouble and dissolution and distress
and then the softness of deep shadows folding,
folding around my soul and spirit, around my lips
so sweet, like a swoon, or more like the drowse of a low, sad song
singing darker than the nightingale, on, on to the solstice
and the silence of short days, the silence of the year, the shadow,
then I shall know that my life is moving still
with the dark earth, and drenched
with the deep oblivion of earth's lapse and renewal.

And if, in the changing phases of man's life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life
is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches
of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me

then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
he is breaking me down to his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Advice re Blogger anyone? (Updated)

For the last 12 hours or so I have been getting error messages when I try to upload a picture into Blogger from my scanner. Since I started blogging last month I have never had any problems doing this up until now. I have done everything that Blogger Help suggests, but to no avail. I have also emailed Blogger but don't imagine I will get an immediate reply (I contacted them earlier in the week on another matter and have heard nothing). Blogger Status reported the same problem last Friday but says it has now been resolved. Well, no, not here it hasn't.

I have a couple of posts in my draft folder with photos, for eventual posting. Once these are up, I would not want to have a totally pictureless blog future ....

Any longer-standing Blogger users/more computer-proficient types than me, has this ever happened to you? If so, what did you do to resolve matters? All suggestions most gratefully received (and not just from Blogger users).

Ggrrrr! Pissed off. I am going to go offline for a day or so and do some flesh and blood things in the flesh and blood world. The sun is shining, the trees are beautiful, it is still warm (for October), I am alive and life is beckoning.

Update: Jean has commented that she is having similar problems. Maybe then a Blogger (or a UK Blogger) problem? Will leave the post up in case anyone else has input. Thank you, Jean!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Update: Richmond Park, Surrey. October 2005

Small kindnesses

The streaming cold persisted yesterday, so I went out only for some necessary shopping and errands.

First stop, the dry cleaners. An elderly man collecting his clean jacket was unhappy about the way the young lad behind the counter was folding it and attempting to squeeze it into a carrier bag. The young lad was losing patience, the old man was muttering and complaining to anyone who would listen, and the atmosphere was getting increasingly tense.

A middle-aged woman assistant took over. She listened calmly and attentively to the elderly customer's complaints. When he had finished she refolded the jacket to his liking, consulted him on the size of the carrier bag he wanted, and suggested that he put his newspaper in the bag as well, as this would make it easier for him to carry everything. Finally, she asked gently if he was now reassured, and if there was anything else he required. He said, no, he was quite happy now, and thanked her in a shaking voice for her help.

Then, on to the supermarket. The young woman at the check-out desk, whom I had never seen before, cheerfully packed my two bags for me, adjusting the contents so the bags' weight would be as nearly equal as possible. "Hope you feel better soon" she called out, as I went on my way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Haiku III

A bad cold since yesterday has for some reason inspired a series of haiku (haikus? haiki? haikae?). This is the last of the batch.

Angry jay in tree
hurls abuse at cat beneath;
cat departs, bird preens.

Haiku II

Leaf mold, thin mist, mud
spattered boots; slow drips from bare
branches overhead.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


October wedding;
laughing kisses, long shadows,
stars for confetti.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The cat

It was only going to be a matter of time before I cracked and posted a photo. This one always makes me feel good.

In London for a day and a bit, but errands to run. Back next week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

There and back again?

Well, I survived leaving the job. My last day was in fact yesterday, not Friday, due to last minute emergencies. During my notice period I was too busy to worry, but my boss did ask me if I would consider returning after my month off if the terms and conditions were altered slightly. The topic was raised either by him or me several times in my last few days. It wasn't a definite offer, but it was enough to set off anxiety and indecision.

And I started to stress. Should I return or not? What if I never work again? What if I really hate every other job I ever get? But what if I return and miss the perfect job that's out there waiting for me? And is he going to make an offer anyway? And what about the temp who's taken my place? And how disappointed am I going to be if he doesn't? And so on. Boring to everyone except me and even, at the end, boring to me. And, given the current state of the planet, self-centred in the extreme.

Thankfully a returning sense of perspective, assisted by meditation, has prevailed and the anxiety is passing. My boss and I have agreed to meet for lunch in 2 weeks time, and I am going to do my best to put the matter to one side until then. I will meditate and pray about it, and also start to put feelers out elsewhere. And trust that the right answer will come.

Jean has a good post today on her blog about anonymity and semi-anonymity in the blogosphere, and the limits that this imposes. Writing occasionally about work, as well as about my chequered past, are two of the main reasons I don't go public. I guess I also value having a space to work things out and explore topics and issues comfortably without feeling constricted in case anyone I know/work with finds my blog.

I'm heading south-east tomorrow for the first of my three mini-holidays, this one to the Kent coast for a couple of days at a B&B with a friend. I return to London for a one-day pit stop, then am off westward here to a wedding on Saturday, and end up a little further west again for a few days with family. I may be able to check in briefly on Friday, otherwise I will be back next week.

The weather forecast is not terribly positive ..... but it won't stop a good time being had by all. (Fingers crossed!).

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Nothing fixed, swirling changing mists
with sudden blazing sunlight
here then gone

Trying to hold on;
fast shallow breaths;
if the grip weakens,
the known-yet-unknown pit
will yawn beneath

A man built a tower; rather
transition is
an invitation to
let go utterly,
saying yes,
into the dance pulsing
through all that is;
wild music,
stamping feet,
wide-open eyes
reflecting the fire, the fear.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Red leaves white houses

Richmond, Surrey. October 2005

I realised today that I needed some colour ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


It would have been my mother’s birthday today. She died almost 3 years ago, and from time to time waves of recollection wash over me. Not grief, just memories of conversations and echoes of her voice.

She and I were at different periods bitter, painful enemies and good friends. In the last third of her life we were, generally, the latter. We had a hard-won complicity and comfort between us at the end that I have not found since. I do miss her very much, increasingly in fact as the years go by.

In her honour, here’s her favourite poem. She was Welsh, not Irish, but the Celt in her always responded to that yearning for the unattainable Yeats writes about. She told me that she heard the author himself read it on the radio in the 1930s or 40s. Happy Birthday, Mum.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
and a small cabin build there of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping

Dropping from the veils of morning to where the cricket

There's midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

W.B. Yeats

Sunday, October 09, 2005


My fear of exacerbating my existing internet compulsivity was one of the reasons I hesitated before starting a blog. And after almost one month of blogging, the amount of my time spent on the net really has not changed that much. I am still not comfortable with my patterns of behaviour around internet use, they get in the way sometimes of other things I want to do/should be doing. I am therefore going to have two days in the week as computer ‘fasting’ days.

Tuesday and Saturday are the days I have chosen, though this may change from time to time through real life factors. If you find me around on either of these days I am breaking my commitment, so feel free to tell me off.

Yesterday was my first experiment, and from 8.00 am Saturday to 8.00 am Sunday I packed my laptop away out of sight, knowing that it was not an option. And the day took on a spaciousness that is absent when I dart backwards and forwards at intervals to blog or surf. I phoned a couple of friends, did housework, read the paper, gave a back massage to a friend as a birthday gift and then listened to a Jeff Buckley CD. Phone calls to more friends followed and a deliciously lazy couple of hours on the sofa with supper and a good TV programme.

Back on line this morning, but a confidence has been born that I can, bit by bit, re-establish some balance and structure into a life that has been emotionally and physically unmanageable of late. This is supported by a renewed commitment to a daily meditation practice.

It has been a most beautiful and sunny early autumn Sunday here in London. I walked by the Thames on the way to a meeting, did some shopping then spent a relaxed hour with a former work colleague having a cappucino and catching up on news. And now back home to start preparing for the final week in my current job.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Raga Panchama is one of the sons of Raga Bhairava (an aspect of Shiva the Destroyer) in Hindu mythology, and associated with autumn. He is shown as a young prince stroking a family of deer on the banks of a lotus lake.

The original of this card was sent to me from India by a friend.

Susurra's recent poignant posts are a reminder of how strong the bond can be between human and animal, and how the animals we live with make their own space in our hearts and lives. And how much we can miss them when they go.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Unwelcome guests

Autumn is bringing me
deep emotions as guests this year
and they are ones I would not now
willingly have in my house;
but yet I must receive them
since I extended the invitation,
albeit half-unwittingly.

So I open up my store of
memories for them to feed on.
And I light the candles, and
stack more logs by the hearth
and decorate the table with red and gold

and perhaps, later, the musicians will come
and we will at the end learn to dance together.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Solar Eclipse

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow morning, Monday 3rd October, visible in the UK between approx 0840 and 1115 (BST). In Southern Europe and Africa there will be an annular (ring-like) eclipse; we in the UK and the rest of Europe, given clear skies, should be able to see a partial eclipse.

The full and informative NASA website is here, with more information here, including a good photo or two and an interesting discussion board with further links.

NB: Do note the advice given about not looking directly at the sun.

Astrology buffs might want to go here.

I find such celestial events, and other dramatic natural phenomena, to be salutary reminders, viz. a) that there are very few things in life that I have any control over at all aside from my own actions (and sometimes not even that), b) that physical life is fragile, and c) that I am better off when I remember all this.