Saturday, October 29, 2011

blustery walkings, and a harvested moon

So I'm meandering around the garden centre being confronted and overwhelmed round every corner by all the frazzle of glitzy-bitsy frilly bits and bobs of Christmas decorations that have rampaged throughout the place over the last ten days, like some unstoppable out of control thing.  And I'm thinking meanwhile, I should really get home before it's dark and do a spot of blogging since it's been a long while. 

It is indeed the time of year when preparations for Christmas seem to explode and suddenly everywhere you look there are pointless stuffs and all types of frilly affairs you can buy and bring home to clutter up your personal space.  Yes, I have developed a rather wry cynical stance on Christmas decorations over the last couple years and when I see all this rubbish everywhere I get to thinking what's it all really for and what's it all about, and what does it mean; the STUFF.  For me, Christmas goes much deeper: it is a story of hope that continually fuels the spice in me to get out of bed every day, and keep on fighting. 

But still, the prettiness of all the trees, lights, make-believe living-rooms with fireplaces, and the creatively thought out displays and conclutterance does still seem to have a certain awe-inspiring pull to it and appeals to the little girl inside me.  Then I find myself despite of the wry cynical thoughts, gazing mouth open at the pretty pink lights and ending up coming home with a small set of simple funky pink flower shaped lights, a lantern-type thing and a small branch, to make myself some sort of funky tree-like deal with the pink flowers wrapped around the branch inside the lantern. 

Now it's set before the mirror in the back of my living room and it's kind of cool.  It's not Christmas, it's just pink flower lights on a branch.  In a lantern.  Well, I have small (what people call) Christmas lights on my balcony all through the dark months but to me they are just cosy lights.  Anyhow, I am a regular visitor at the green place now - everyday I go on my two hour trek, peppering along at a hasty pace by the lake and onto the garden centre, have a nice sit down and some fresh juice, gawp at all the nice enticing plants, try not to buy any and head on home again. 

Since seven weeks I've started a kind of new lifestyle of walking and cycling rather obsessively with a view to becoming - how shall I put it - more *minimal*.  And thankfully, I am slowly but surely compacting into a smaller parcel of Honorness.  Eating healthy and excercising and keeping those things up on a daily basis is a challenge but I already feel like a new person from making these changes.  I've got more energy, life seems a titch less heavy-going and my clothes are getting bigger which is quite...  interesting.
 In my last post I said I'd be going away for a few days to the sea.  Well, I went; there and back again - (just like Bilbo Baggins), and it was amazing.  It was indeed a lovely blustery affair through and through; plenty of nice beach walks, moody clouds and burly windiness.  A fair few nice hot cups of teas were had in cosy beach cafes (and the occasional delightful hot chocolate with whipped cream), and I did manage to accumulate a mountainess number of photos on my quest to find cool artistic shots.

Endless patience was required for the birds; waiting waiting for that great shot.  My favourite cafe there - which I have re-named "The Cookie-bird Cafe", is on the beach, and if it was quiet the little mischievous and cheeky birds would come and eat my tea cookies on the table.  The wind did indeed blow the cobwebs out of my head and the freshness of the whole being away affair was good for me; and I managed to work on my poetry.
After a long laborious hammering and juggling of words and ideas my book has sprung to life at last - - "Harvest Moon":  29 and a half poems.  It really is a labour of love, something coming from my heart.  The poems are complete; but I am now working on illustrations and selecting a few good photos as well.  It is very personal, but then anything creative always is, coming from the essence of yourself.  However, anyway, (I think.....) I want to share it with people.  With that comes a general uneasy wondering if anybody will get it or like it.  Well, as I said in the previous post, anything like this is always risky.  But to live, it is in general an altogether risky business; it can be harsh or glorious or even both at the same time.  I'd rather take the risk to let something of myself finally be seen after all the years of hiding away I did before, than to not do it and to never know.  Poetry is fascinating to me.  Poems are like miniature stories, each one a pert neat little packaged tale, individual and unique. 

The jazz is finally moving forward too - I've managed (mostly) to make peace and compromise with my neighbours and am working out on the piano much more.  Endlessly working out chords in all keys and improvisings - discovering a myriad of great sounds, a realm of musics that makes me smile, gets my foot tapping and makes me feel all jiggly.  Improvisation is an adventure I am enjoying more and more.  I just wish I could get to writing down some of the stuff I've worked out and composed, all those spicy notes are knocking around in my head but I just don't have time to get them down on manuscript.  As well as the jazz I'm working on Debussy's sarabande from 'Pour le piano'.  It's beautiful - but some of the chords are too big for my little hands, so I'm having to cheat now and then.
My daily trek is a good time to air all this stuff, plus all the regular musings, some bothersome insecurities and numerous wonderings rattling around in my head.  Walks in the autumn are great.  The swallows are chattering in tree-tops and everyday when I walk I enjoy seeing the geese in flight, and those lovely white angels (the swans, in case you're wondering).  Apart from that blasted little yappy dog I wanted to kick into the middle of next week that appraised me menacingly for a moment before - (then I knew it was coming) - sinking his chompers into my trousers when I was out walking; and the strange people that stare (yeah I know I look weird but please....) - I am enjoying my walkings immensely.  Even when it's rainings.

On that point I'll close and walk on out of this blog and off to cop a few zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz's since it's now the middle of the night after I spent ages trying to mess with my photos in this post to get them right.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

a jazzy storm, space... and poetry

So it's late, and I'm sitting in the lazy chair, glass of wine, candles burning, chilling to Kevin Flanagan's riprap jazz (genius) - - and the furiously ferocious early autumn storm letting rip outside and blowing my 6th floor apartment away to wonderland...... glorious rain, wind and scudding clouds this evening which is so totally my kind of weather.  Sweet.  No - I'm not being sarcastic; I love wind, rain and clouds.  This kind of weather has a certain air of privacy about it and quiet meditative reflectiveness.  It has a mood of change, purposeful determined activity and freshness to it.  And the moon is waxing; it's beautiful shining behind clouds drifting on the wind.  Full harvest moon is this coming Monday.  It's the most beautiful full moon of the year.

People give me strange looks when I say I revel in walking on the beach in a gale-force 12 storm.  Did that; in Wales once, walked on the beach in a raging storm.  It's so liberating.  Birds fleet and whirl in a vortex of swirling winds, so free.  Private weather, I call it.  Weather where most people want to be indoors and so outdoors becomes.... well, distinctly more private and clear of clutter and noise.  Man-made sounds fall away and then all you're left with is the clarity of nature's music; rushing wind, deluge of rain, a storm let loose.  Nature's peace.

A gale-force 12 storm at sea as opposed to alongside the sea, that's another story.  If you're not hanging over the toilet, it's amazing.  Towering force of waves - nose-diving shuddering ditch of bough into the trough of a wave followed by pitching and heaving starward to waves' peak; resulting in stuff flinging around in all directions uncontrollably in the cabin, hearing it breaking in the pitch black and wondering what broke this time...  And a feeling that you're afraid you're doing to die, which is inevitably replaced after 9 days at sea - having endured a one-on-one relationship with the toilet - with a shame-faced furtive hoping that you will die.  Then it's decidedly less romantic and amazing.  All astoundingly beautiful nature, dolphins and whales included, velvet night sky with bright stars; but that's another story, another time, out of a life long gone. 

So anyway tonight I had a blast fixing up my balcony while it was storming, I cleaned up the water fountain which is now enthusiastically babbling as opposed to the slow sluggish drip-drap of earlier, and I hung up a few small lights.  Took away the low coffee table from the middle of my living room.  Funny how such a simple action can make such an impact.  Suddenly there is space.  It's a relief.  And that got me to thinking; why do people put tables in the middle of rooms anyway? 

What dude decided that This Was How It Should Be Done?  Then realised, I'm not people, I'm me, and I don't have to do what everyone else does.  I am allowed to have space in the middle of my room instead of a table if I want to, I am allowed to be:  so I was.  One thing comes with living alone; if you want you can paint purple spots on your walls and hammer your furniture to the ceiling, you can put upstairs downstairs and downstairs sideways if you want, or fill your walls with your own artwork... except your visitors (if you have any) might be slightly alarmed and more than a little ruffled.  Well, that is neither here nor there.

Anyhow; The      *S  p  a  c  e*      looks good.  Now that blasted table's out the way, I have the room to pace back and forth in my living room whilst mulling various creative ideas over in my head and listening to music.  I'm going to get rid of more stuff too; I've been thinking I'd like to get back to being minimal and uncluttered.  Anyway; why does a person need so much stuff?  Lately I've been realising more and more how rubbish stuff is.  It's only taken 38 long years for the penny to finally truly drop: you can't take any of it with you when you die.  Why bother with it.  It only gets in the way and clutters your mind.  Stuff is a *conclutterance* of things.  Oh yeah!  I love making up words.

I'm out of here in a few days, I'm going to the sea.  Hopefully it'll be storming then too and it'll blow the cobwebs right out of my head.  I'm heading for a couple days of long bracing beach walks, alternated with a bit of a nice sit down and a fair few cups of teas on windy terraces, combined with some writing of poetry.  Also hoping to sit on a horse again and have a bit of a gallop.  This week as I was enjoying a pleasant cup of Yorkshire golden tea, the words of the poem below tumbled out of my head in this order and form onto a piece of paper.  It is one of a series of poems I am writing for a collection entitled 'Harvest Moon'.  So I am curious to see how that project works out for me.  It's risky.  But anything worthwhile in life usually seems to be.

silver rush of rain fleeting like
spears piercing leaves at night
dancing light reflected moon-bright
at sight all seems quiet
but still
a pause
in the fury of clouds brimmed full
with wrath and pensive thought
ominous white stab of light
blinding illuminate for a
moment bright then
dimmed softly
fading into

As usual I am obsessing with this blog tweaking it trying to get it just right and and have ended up editing it about 20 times since I posted it yesterday.  And I'm getting grumpy now so I'm going to leave it alone.  Stop it, just STOP it now already.  Edit: post: STOP.


Friday, August 26, 2011

late night summer rainings...the matter of being bold, and a piano

It's 0238hrs and I'm sitting here with my cup of tea: it's thundering and raining.  The quiet clear night air has that deliciously nice fresh green scent, you know, of freshly watered grass and leaves.  And, you can see it now; the dozey slowly waking autumn has taken out it's paintbrush and applied a subtle hint of golden-copper colour around edges of leaves. 

Maybe a glass of wine on the balcony before sleep would go down well.  Why am I awake at this insane hour, I hear you muse?  I guess I have a lot on my mind and I'm restless.  But the night is so still, it's beautiful.  Only nature's calming sounds, the gentle whispering of the wind sighing in the trees, and softly falling rain.  Stars far off, there seems to be so much more distance and space to life at night.  A certain clarity and deep peace. 

I find it a good time to clear my mind of all the confusion of the day as I sit on my balcony and absorb the peaceful rustling of leaves and tapping rain.  Rumble of thunder, a rush of wind, more rain.  New moon on Monday; then, in two weeks it'll be the harvest moon, shining full, clear and purposely bright, clearly visible from my 6th floor apartment balcony.

A couple days ago I wrote something to a friend on facebook, the words just seemed to fall out in the right order so that what I said stuck with me and got me back to thinking about the whole matter of being bold.  This has been on my mind lately, as a person who has been timid for long enough and who is trying to find the courage to dig deep enough and discover my *inner boldness*

I pondered on it and discovered that for once I had actually succeeded in putting EXACTLY into words some of the thoughts that I am continually struggling to try to put down in a way that gets to the heart of the matter.  And since I'm trying to develop my creative writing and poetical side through starting this blog I thought I'd share it with you.  O.K, hang on, here it comes::  

"NO you already have, YES you can get.  It's always worth a try, there's nothing to lose, but if you don't ask, or try, you'll never know.  You'll never know if it could be different, or what glorious new green mountainous far-stretching worlds are out there waiting to be discovered, because you'll always be stuck with NO, like a solid brick wall rising ground-up in front of you into the heavens."

haha - it's evolved somewhat, - even since the scribbling of this blog 36 hours ago, during the re-writing.  And no doubt it will evolve more after I've slept on it a few days.  Evolving usually entails making it more succint and less wordy.  It still needs ~tweaking~ a tad.  You're probably all thinking, well yeah......

I am very slowly beginning to learn that it makes a huge difference in life if you are able to free yourself of worrying about what other people think of you.  In worrying about what other people think about you, in a sense you allow them to define who you are; you do that by trying to behave within the parameters of what you think they consider is acceptable. 

Therefore it may well be true that the people who are closest to you have the capacity to mold you the most; and that can be good or bad in many complicated ways.  I've noticed over the last few months that the less I worry about what people think of me, the more free I am to be myself.  The more free to be myself I am, the more I seem to be able to relate to others, to be able to give again, to laugh out loud with them, to show love, acceptance and kindness, and to dare to take my place in life, alongside them.  I think it also has something to do with learning to accept myself more, and consequently being able to love others more. 

Of course there's always the risk of invevitable tripping, falling and possibly being seen as a slightly eccentric and obscure individual in the eyes of others, but it's a risk I'm willing to take as I endeavour to discover who I am within this new life I have just begun.  Being bold is at times quite terrifying but has at least, until this point, rendered mostly positive results.  How it continues.... remains to be seen. 

But, enough of THAT.  I had stated in my last post that pianos were 'behind locked doors' for me; however I am glad to announce that this is no longer the case.  Last week, in a moment of determination and after a few googled attempts at locating a piano shop, I went to Alkmaar where I discovered a lovely antiquated piano shop down a pleasant sidestreet by the river.  The owner restores pianos with much love and affection and having explained on the phone beforehand that I needed a piano for a year, he had picked one out for me to hire that fit into my budget. 

It was an Eavestaff, the cheapest piano in the shop, lovingly restored and polished to a high-mirror shine; a deep burgundy hue.  When I sat down to play, I had not expected the bright, clear crisp, sparkly exuberent and richly toned notes that bounced enthusiastically off all four walls and ceiling and made me smile from ear to ear.  So I decided this was to be my *new friend* for the next year, upon which I would attempt to rediscover and work out all the fine tunes continually evolving and being re-born ceaselessly in my head.  Maybe even write some music again. 

Hugo, the shop owner, had a restored Steinway from 1917 nestled in the corner, and a Bechstein.  I was allowed to play them too, such beautiful deep rich tones, it lifted my heart to play them.  I believe that pianos have feelings, you know, and like people, they have many beautiful things to say, and are waiting to be heard, and to be given a loving home.  Well, anyway, if you've got 38,000 euros in your pocket then the restored 1917 Steinway is yours.  Had a nice cup of tea (always nice..) and talked with Hugo about music, he suggested a local jazz club and places where I could find music and others who love it. 

The next morning, my new friend was delivered and given place of honour in my living room.  A dodgy moment ensued whereby we both thought *he* would not fit through the hallway but finally we managed it.  I think *he* (who I have yet to name) is slightly disgruntled from the move and may need another tuning, but I have really enjoyed playing him this week.  Apparently my music echoes all through the gallery, so I will see if that sits well with other people or not...

I am working on my jazz again; it's so frustrating right now, I studied it at Uni but most of my energy went into classical piano, violin, singing and composition.  I can hear the music, in my heart and head the notes are singing, however as yet I cannot get what's in my heart out onto the piano in a way that sounds right.  Jazz is a whole other world to classical, a world of improvisation, the working-out of a basic idea which is continually evolving into something new and fresh, never the same, like an ongoing journey of discovery.  And it just makes me happy. 

In many ways I think it is harder than classical piano to master, but you really have to have a feel for jazz, that's the beginning of the journey.  I am going to have to persevere with relentless excercises - and the complicated process of working out the music in my heart and head, until finally hopefully the notes create some form of musical poetry that sounds alive and will hopefull eventually make people smile..  If I can do that over the next year, as well as get my classical going again, I'll be well pleased. 

Enough said.  I have to stop obsessively messing with this blog now.  A few moments of absent-minded fuggy star-staring and listening to wind rustling in trees on my balcony, are in order, before bed. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"big bowl of weetabix you've got there son!"

have you had YOUR weetabix?

Dear friends, it's 0627hrs, and I'm up already which is quite remarkable for me as those of you who know me better, especially over the last 3 years, will agree.  I cannot explain it but I just wanted to get up.  It's a beautiful misty hazy morning, kettle's on, time for a cup of tea in my fave mug to try to shake the fugginess from my head.  The water fountain on my balcony babbles, it's a lovely sound, very peaceful, not much else to hear but a few birds.  A couple of cockerels in the farmyard across the street enthusiastically announce that it's indeed a fairly smart idea to be up and about.

Last night I laid in bed having serious doubts regarding my sanity after yesterday's reckless frenzy concerning the first posting of my thoughts, wondering if the world will think I'm crazy, yet dare I hope that this blog will be a positive step towards moving on, sharing uplifting and good things and becoming a more mature and wiser person...?  Well now, that remains to be seen.

As for my blog title - 'a far green country' - Gandalf's musings in 'Return of the King' always stay with me even from the first time I read Tolkien's masterpiece and when I saw the film.

"I didn't think it would end this way."
"End?  No, the journey doesn't end here.  Death is just another path, one that we all must take.  The gray rain curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass.  And then you see it."
"What, Gandalf?  See what?"
"White shores....and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise".
"Well, that isn't so bad".
"No, no it isn't".

Return of the King

It is a beautiful illustration of hope against the odds, and of courage in the face of darkness; the persistant choice to hold onto hope in the face of adversity and to not quit.  I see it as a picture of heaven, and psalm 23's green pastures and quiet waters... but more about that another time. 

Sun is breaking through the clouds, and I still have to have some breakfast.  Have you had YOUR weetabix?  Well I can't face my day without it; ahh.. the classic quintessential *British Breakfast Cereal*, it doesn't get much better than that does it??  I was brought up on the stuff......pour the milk on and try to gobble it up speedily before all the milk is absorbed and it degenerates into a soggy slumpy mass of goo.  Ha ha!....ummm....yeah... good times.

Well now, I continue on my hunt for a piano today, hoping that soon I'll come across some funky priceless treasure ~ (maybe a clapped out old affair from a bar that would appreciate a bit of TLC and a good home???) ~ upon which I will be able to work out all the fine tunes that are persistant in relentlessly knocking around in my head.

I've already checked out the local 'left-overs' store, no nifty bargain to be bagged there, so now onto the next effort to find one.  I've taken up playing again over the last few months but it's getting increasingly frustrating not having a piano at home to play on. 

Last Saturday I went to Alkmaar and towards the end of the afternoon when I was wondering around in the drizzling rain, I discovered a seemingly deserted theatre and tried all the locked doors to the halls hoping to stumble upon a grand piano to play.  After all, that's generally where you will find grand pianos, in big grand halls. 

Sad, you're thinking, very sad, yes, I know; - but the drive is there to play again and to be able to play upon a grand piano gives me joy.  I miss that a lot from university.  There is something sacred about a lovely Steinway or Yamaha grand piano standing gloriously in a spacious quiet empty hall just waiting to be played.  And good acoustics, the notes soar.  But for now pianos seem to be behind locked doors for me.

Saw a video this week of some idiot who decided it would be cool - supposedly in the name of *art* - to burn a grand piano whilst playing on it.  !?Say what?!

After seeing that, felt quietly infuriated and moody for a bit. 

I have a distinct allergy to seeing pianos being dropped - squashed - burned - hammered - crushed etc etc; why do you see that so often?  Well how dare they?  So not cool.  It was very sad, a piano is like a beautiful piece of art.  But DON'T get me started on that, you'll soon tire of reading this blog...if you haven't already.

Well it's time for that weetabix.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you have a great day.

far green country...

weetabix vintage ads; classic! Have you had YOUR weetabix?

one my 'far green country' drawings

one my 'far green country' drawings
one of my 'far green country' drawings