Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ray of light

the sun is entirely responsible for the continued existence of life on earth.

i like that the light that comes from the sun, loves to play. here are a few images from around my home of sunlight that has somehow squeezed itself through little cracks, bent around corners, stuttered up mouldings and window frames and for the briefest of moments created something really beautiful to watch.








Monday, June 29, 2009

peter sis: "tibet, inside the red box"

i'm reading peter sis' book "tibet: through the red box". it is visually and textually breathtaking. my dad skimmed through it on one of his visits here and said, "this guy knows more than he's letting on, or he's very clever." i didn't quite get the allusion - obscurity being one of my father's characteristics that i not only inherited but have nurtured - but reading it i am drawn to wonder if he meant the insights peter has into not only tibet, but the deeper mapping of the spiritual energies of tibet and beyond.

the book opens with a lovely quality of mystery about it; "the red box is on the table waiting. but i am worried about my father, who is not here. i unlock the box with a rusty little key."

so simple. i absolutely have to know what is in that red box!

and what is inside the red box is his father's diary. a diary that is profusely and beautifully illustrated with scenes of the journey . . .

and of course, mandalas . . .

here is an excerpt from the book that is generously hosted by the dedicated webpage for this book.

"my father was lost in a mountain forest of giant rhododendrons. he and his companions didn't know which way to go. all of a sudden, he heard the gentle tinkling of bells.

out of the foliage appeared a little boy dressed all in red. he had jingling bells on his hat, around his wrists, and attached to his pouch and his spear. he was smiling, and he gave my father a letter addressed to him-a letter from prague.

my father was amazed; how could this be? he had been waiting for a letter from his family for a long time, but to have it reach him in the middle of nowhere? that was unbelievable! how had the boy found him? was my father not as lost as he thought he was?

my father wanted to give the jingle-bell boy a present and remembered a pair of scissors he had brought to cut film and labels. the boy seemed pleased and fascinated by this strange tool, which he opened and closed and tried out on tufts of grass and on leaves. they offered the boy a place by the fire for the night. my father was hoping to learn where they were and how to find their way out; he tried drawing maps in the dirt, but he couldn't make himself understood.

when father awoke the next morning, the boy was gone. then father noticed a rhododendron leaf with an unusual cut, and then another and another. he knew as he followed the scissors cuts they would lead him out of the forest and through the mountainous maze of valleys and ridges."

the same weblink that i linked above has a sample page from the book that you might like to see and read.

for the story behind this story you really must read this.

you can buy this book from the usual people.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

sunday morning

an early morning arising. somehow my body doesn't know that it can rest longer if it wants. proof of the tenuous connection between body and mind - my mind says sleep. my body says get up.

getting up is worthwhile for morning skies like this . . .

this one a tentative, "should i rain, or should i be a massive towering billowy clouds kind of day?"

closer to earth the river pebble flowerbed by the pool is pretty in pink and purple . . .

closer to the house, the deckside bed . . .

hmmmm looks like the grass needs cutting! but i think i'll do some reading first . . . . peter sis' book "tibet: through the red box" . . . .

slide the slipcover off and underneath lies the first treasure! (click the image for a closer look) and that's before the cover has even been opened! what wonders await?!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

jimmy page and robert plant "kashmir" and "yallah"

i was never a led zeppelin fan although i did eventually pick up led zeppelin's first, second and third albums. so it was with some curiousity that i tuned in a jimmy page and robert plant concert a number of years back and was pleasantly surprised by the musicianship that they had held onto as well as their willingness to revisit and rebuild some of their classics.

one piece i am especially fond of is "kashmir". kashmir first appeared on zeppelin's sixth album entitled "physical graffiti". it has its origins in southern morocco where the words were written by plant in 1973 in an area he called "the waste lands" while driving from goulimine to tantan. kashmir of course is in northern india.

this version features some really exciting work from the back-up musicians travelling as "the egyptian pharaohs". this particular rendering took place at irvine meadows, irvine, california, on the 3rd of october 1995. hang onto your hats!!!

part one:
part two:

hey while you're hear you should give "yallah" a listen as well. filmed in a marketplace in marrakech, it's very popular with the guitar playing/screeching boys in this house!

Friday, June 26, 2009

stop! ...................... continue . . .

i love to visit shorpy's. shorpy's features photos from a time long past. a time and a past that i am disconnected from in ways other than chronological - i'm english by birth, canadian by relocation and the experiences and contexts in shorpy's blog are american. but, i can place them in context of the many films and books and my own experiences of america not to mention, the very human moments and experiences that shorpy shares.

this one caught my eye recently.

this is entitled "madame lubouska, national american ballet, 1924". i love this pose. it's so hard to tell if she's moving forward, falling backward, or perhaps somehow miraculously in stasis. i'm thinking of a gurdjieff stop exercise.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

john atkinson grimshaw

bloggy chums from all over, thankyou for sticking with me as i slowwwwly worked my way through my bonnefoy poetry piece. i love his poetry so much that i couldn't bear not to share it and i made myself feel a little less guilt over it all by tucking other stuff in there as well. anyhow, some art today for a change.

john atkinson grimshaw painted landscapes and street scenes that captured remarkable detail with an almost photographic intricacy while retaining the emotive features of the scene through his extraordinary skill with light. john was self-taught and used photographs to ensure accuracy. at one point he painted over photographs but the art world was not quite ready for that sensation and so he backed off. my favourite works of his are those categorized as "moonlights" such as this . . . .
a lane in headingley, leeds. 1881

however, i think he had considerable success with common street scenes such as this lovely depiction of an "autumn evening leeds." 1883

and this beautiful work entitled "yorkshire early spring". 1867

to view more of atkinson's work then you should take some time and visit this gallery.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the house where i was born - five

and then the day came
when i heard the extraordinary lines in keats,
the evocation of ruth “when, sick for home,
she stood in tears amid the alien corn.”

i did not need to search for the meaning
of these words,
for it was in me since childhood,
i had only to recognize and to love it
when it came back from the depths of my life.

what could i take
from the evasive maternal presence
if not the feeling of exile and tears
that clouded that gaze searching to find
in things close by the place forever lost?

and then life; and once again
a house where i was born. around us
the granary above what once had been a church,
the gentle play of shadow from the dawn clouds,
and in us that smell of the dry straw
that had seemed to be waiting for us
from the moment the last sack, of wheat or rye,
had been brought in so long ago,
in the eternity of former summers
whose light was filtered through the warm tiles.
i could sense that day was about to break,
i was waking, and now i turn once more
toward the one who dreamed beside me
in the lonely house. to her silence
i dedicate, at night,
the words that only seem to be speaking of something else.

(i was waking,
i loved those days we had, days preserved
the way a river flows slowly, though already
caught in the vaulting rumbling of the sea.
they were passing through us, with the majesty of simple things,
the mighty sails of what is were kind enough to take
precarious human life on board the ship
that the mountain spread out around us.
o memory,
they covered with the flapping of their silence
the sound, of water on the stones, of our voices,
and up ahead, there might well be death,
but with that milky colour you find at the end of beaches
in the evening, when far off
the children still touch bottom, and laugh in the peaceful water,
and keep on playing.)

">yves bonnefoy

hey! did you like this writing? if you did then you should type in "the house where i was born" in the search bar up top, or check my sidebar which has direct links (if you visit this month only!!) to the other blogs for this monumental and lovely piece of writing.

jamaaladeen tacuma live

there's been scads and oddles of poetry on the blog of late and i guess that's an occupational hazhard of visiting here - there's not really a lot of rhyme or reason just will o'the wisp, whimsical "hey what's happening that i like?" kind of stuff.

so music is really important to me . . . it says something of what poetry can't. poetry is like perfume. it contains essences. well, ideas of essences.

for me, music is essence. sure it hides behind flounces and frills and cleverness, but there's something there that is fundamental to the way this whole thing we are a part of expresses itself.

jamaaladeen tacuma is one of those astonishingly talented musicians whose flame flares for a while and then settles back into - well not obscurity - but somewhere off the floodlit walkway. i came across this piece and was racking my brain to figure out which miles album the groove that tacuma and drummer grant calvin weston are carving out here is from. it's right on the tip of my mind but i can't figure it out - jack johnston?

maybe if human music encyclopedia and blogger buddy sid the smith drops by he can cast some light on this burning question?!

regardless - it's a knock out group having some fun with early seventies' miles.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the house where i was born - four

"farm window view"
i remember, it was a morning, in summer,
the window was half-open, i drew near,
i could see my father at the end of the garden.
he was motionless, looking for something,
i could not tell what, or where, beyond the world,
his body was already bent over, but his gaze
was lifted toward the unaccomplished or the impossible.
he had put aside his pick and his spade,
the air was fresh on that morning of the world,
but even freshness can be impenetrable, and cruel
the memory of the mornings of childhood.
who was he, who had he been in the light,
i did not know, i still do not.

but i also see him on the boulevard,
walking slowly, so much weariness
weighing down the way he now moved,
he was going back to work, while i
was wandering about with some of my classmates
at the beginning of an afternoon still free from time.
to this figure, seen from afar, moving on its way,
i dedicate the words that cannot say what they would.

"farmer walking home"

(in the dining room
of the sunday afternoon, in summer,
the shutters closed against the heat,
the table cleared, he suggested
cards, since these are the only pictures
in the childhood house to satisfy
the needs of dream, but he leaves,
and when he does, the child clumsily takes the cards,
he puts the winning ones in the other’s hand,
then waits feverishly for the game to begin again,
and for the one who was losing to win, and so triumphantly
that he might see in this victory a sign, something
to nourish some hope the child cannot know.
after this, two paths part, and one of them
vanishes, and almost immediately, forgetfulness
sets in, avid, relentless.

"playing cards in an alcove"

i have crossed out
these words a hundred times, in verse, in prose,
but i cannot
stop them from coming back.)

i open my eyes, yes, it’s the house where i was born,
exactly as it was and nothing more.
the same small dining room whose window
gives onto a peach tree that never grows.
a man and a woman are seated
at this window, facing one another,
they are talking, for once. and the child
sees them from the end of the garden, watches them,
he knows that people can be born from such words.
behind the parents the room is dark.
the man has just come home from work. Weariness,
the halo that surrounds all he does,
the only one given his son to see,
Is already removing him from this shore.

yves bonnefoy

a japanese wood carving

a japanese wood-carving (1911)

high up above the open, welcoming door
it hangs, a piece of wood with colours dim.
once, long ago, it was a waving tree
and knew the sun and shadow through the leaves
of forest trees, in a thick eastern wood.
the winter snows had bent its branches down,
the spring had swelled it buds with coming flowers,
summer had run like fire through its veins,
while autumn pelted it with chestnut burrs,
and strewed the leafy ground with acorn cups.
dark midnight storms had roared and crashed among
its branches, breaking here and there a limb;
but every now and then abroad sunlit days
lovingly lingered, caught among the leaves.
yes, it had known all this, and yet to us
it does not speak of mossy forest ways,
of whispering pine trees or the shimmering birch;
but of quick winds, and the salt, stinging sea!
an artist once, with patient, careful knife,
had fashioned it like to the untamed sea.
here waves uprear themselves, their tops blown back
by the gay, sunny wind, which whips the blue
bnd beaks it into gleams and sparks of light.
among the flashing waves are two white birds
which swoop, and soar, and scream for very joy
at the wild sport. now diving quickly in,
questing some glistening fish. now flying up,
their dripping feathers shining in the sun,
the wet drops like little glints of light,
fall pattering backward to the parent sea.
gliding along the green and foam-flecked hollows,
or skimming some white crest about to break,
the spirits of the sky deigning to stoop
and play with ocean in a summer mood.
hanging above the high, wide open door,
it brings to us in quiet, firelit room,
the freedom of the earth’s vast solitudes,
where heaping, sunny waves tumble and roll,
and seabirds scream in wanton happiness.

amy lowell

Monday, June 22, 2009

the house where i was born - three

"red boat" jack dickerson

in the same dream
i am lying in the hollow of a boat,
my forehead and eyes against the curved planks
where i can hear the undercurrents
striking the bottom of the boat.
all at once, the prow rises up,
and i think that we’ve come to the estuary,
but i keep my eyes against the wood
that smells of tar and glue.
too vast, too luminous the images
that i have gathered in my sleep.
why rediscover, outside,
the things that words tell me of,
but without convincing me,
i desire a higher or less somber shore.

and yet i give up this ground that stirs
beneath the body waking to itself, i get up,
i go from room to room in the house,
they are endless now,
i can hear the cries of voices behind doors,
i am seized by these sorrows that knock
against the ruined casings, i hurry on,
the lingering night is too heavy for me,
frightened, i go into a room cluttered with desks,
look, i’m told, this was your classroom,
see on the walls the first images you looked at,
look, the tree, look, there, the yelping dog,
and the geography map on the yellow wall,
this fading of names and forms,
this effacing of mountains and rivers
by the whiteness that freezes language.
look, this was your only book. the isis of the plaster
on the wall of this room, which is pealing away,
never had, nor ever will have anything other
to open for you, to close on you.

"train in the snow" monet

i woke up, but I was travelling,
the train had rolled throughout the night,
it was now going toward huge clouds
that were standing, packed together, down there,
dawn rent from time to time by forks of lightning.
i watched the advent of the world
in the bushes of the embankment; and all at once
that other fire below a field
of stones and vines. the wind, the rain
blew its smoke back against the ground,
but a red flame flared up,
taking by the handful the base of the sky.
how long were you burning, wine grower’s fire,
who wanted you there, and for whom on this earth?

"the travelling companions" augustus egg

and then it was day; and the sun
cast its thousand shafts of light
on the lace that covered the blue woolen cushions
in the compartment where people slept,
their heads still nodding. i did not sleep,
i was still at the age when one is full of hope,
i dedicated my words to the low mountains
that i could see coming through the windows.
yves bonnefoy

you might like to read: "the house where i was born part two" and "the house where i was born part one".

my dark master

i am not immune to the wonders of the dark bean. chocolate (aka the dark master) has been a friend/necessity in my life for as long as i can remember. as a very little boy, my mum's mum kept a little cardboard box of small cadbury dairy milk chocolate bars handy when my bruvver and i visited. these little bars - no bigger than half your pinky finger - were nibbled on and melted in my mouth such that they lasted much much longer than their makers would believe or could even imagine.
through time i graduated to the magic of chocolate buttons. their soft round edges danced many a happy dance on my tongue! half the fun was coaxing them to melt slowly without resorting to quickly chewing and swallowing. the other half was deciding when you needed a drink to wash the chocolate clagginess (a word i learned from a walking buddy long ago who hailed from driffield up in yorkshire, england) out of your throat.
one of the more interesting iterations of the chocolate experience for me was the flake bar. probably the most challenging of all the bars because if you bite into it, pieces go everywhere and you see portions of your chocolate experience performing all sorts of gymnastic routines through the air and landing more often than not in hard to reach (or undesirable) spots, thereby denying you your full pleasure!

if you suck the flake bar it becomes a strange and even more disconnected mess and definitely not something you want to spend a lot of time looking at. one of my more successful strategies was to carefully unwrap the package and lay it as flat as possible and using thumb and index finger (one more small detail that makes me glad to be human), i would carefully deconstruct the flakes and just as carefully raise them to my mouth wherein they would be allowed to melt as slowly as they wanted. that way it was possible to keep better track of the whereabouts of those pieces trying to make a break for it.
i have graduated now to fair trade organic chocolate that costs a fortune but is hugely worth it as it carries the true essence of chocolate in its incredible melt-in-my-mouth goodness and leaves me astonished and chemically jacked each and every time i have a little square! i buy my chocolate through birds and beans and have it sent through the mail to my home on an irregular but pretty much predictable basis - when the going gets tough, the chocolate gets going!

as a closing to this piece, i should share that my daughter, who is now twelve eats one little bag of hershey kisses each week. contrary to what all the medical profession suggest, she has not become obese or whatever - she probably only weighs about sixty pounds - but she cannot deny the power of her dark master. weeks where i fail to come home with her bag of little chocolate happy experiences are filled with recrimination and angst. "how could you forget?" she'll ask in as pathetic and plaintive a voice as any father has ever heard. let me tell you - those of you who are female and reading this - you really have no idea how hard it is for father's to fail their daughters!!!

so how's your relationship with the dark bean?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the house where i was born - two

summer solstice was acknowledged this morning. a slightly overcast day with a promise of thunderstorms later, summer's arrival really takes effect in this home after the school's close. it is then that we choose what and when we do things and really take stock of our weary bodies and minds.

here is the second section of yves bonnefoy's poem "the house where i was born".
caspar david friedrich monk by the sea

i woke up, it was the house where i was born,
it was night, trees were crowding
on all sides around our door,
i was alone on the doorstep in the cold wind,
no, not alone, for two huge beings
were speaking to each other above me, through me.
one, behind, an old woman, stooped, mean,
the other standing upright outside like a lamp,
beautiful, holding the cup that had been offered her,
drinking greedily to calm her thirst.
did i think to mock her, surely not,
rather i let out a cry of love
but with the strangeness of despair,
and the poison ran throughout my body,
ceres, mocked, broke the one who loved her.
thus speaks the life walled up in life today.

image from "breathtaking group"

another time.
it was still night. water slid
silently on the black ground,
and i knew that my only task would be
to remember, and i laughed,
i bent down, i took from the mud
a pile of branches and leaves,
i lifted up the whole dripping mass
in arms i held close to my heart.
what to do with this wood where
the sound of colour rose from so much absence,
it hardly mattered, i went in haste, looking for
at least some kind of shed, beneath the load
of branches that were full of
rough edges, stabbing pains, points, cries.

and voices that cast shadows on the road,
or called to me, and, my heart beating fast,
i turned around to face the empty road.

yves bonnefoy

you can read part one here.

two reasons to get up in the morning

i have many reasons to wake up in the morning here are two of my favourites . . . dawson. my hilarious, sweet, wannabe rockstar, girl magnet and definitely cool beyond any cool you've experienced. dawson, who is at that tender age where his hormones rule his mind such that he believes he really does know it all. all-in-all a beautiful boy!!

lexie (alexia), my tiny girl who has a fire burning inside her that leaves me gobsmacked. nothing is done in half-measures. when she goes to bed there is nothing left in the tank.

these two are twenty two months apart. when they were very little there were many who thought they were twins. now they are night and day in every way but have a deep and honest love for each other which is probably a good thing because i expect that dawson is going to need his sister to help him out more than she can imagine when they grow up and leave home!!

i always love deeply. i have no choice in that matter. but the depths of love i feel for these two people - well - i know you know!!

hey, happy father's day to all the dad's who drop by today. i don't care much for "days". mums deserve to be celebrated every day and so do dads but it's nice to give my kids an excuse to make a me a nice card!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"slight chance of rain . . . "

it rained off and on throughout the day. i don't mind at all! i opened the windows to listen to its pattering on the deck out back and then to the hissing of car tires as they passed by on the road. i love the look of rain on pavement.

my plants know that i love their look whatever the weather!

especially my hosta plants!!!

the house where i was born - one

hey readers! it's saturday. it's going to be a rainy one around where i live. rainy days are days that make me wriggle with the pleasure of quiet indoor stuff like reading, cleaning, movie watching, reading, writing blogs, reading blogs, watching the rain, walking out in the rain, standing in the garage and watching it come down. rain rarely ever gets me down. i thank my birthplace (manchester, england) for that because in manchester it rains more than it shines so you need to get used to it, or even better - to find ways to like it.

yesterday i shared a little rave about yves bonnefoy and i have a really long poem of his that i want to share. so at the expense of my reader's sanity and maybe even your happiness i'm going to tell you that today is the first installment of a five part series featuring the poetry of yves bonnefoy. i think i'll be adding extra posts just to keep my guilt at this excess at a minimum. we'll see what shows up. it's just such a wickedgood piece of writing that i have to share it.

it's called "the house where i was born"

george bellows. an island in the sea. 1911

i woke up, it was the house where i was born,
sea foam splashed against the rock,
not a single bird, only the wind to open and close the wave,
everywhere on the horizon the smell of ashes,
as if the hills were hiding a fire
that somewhere else was burning up a universe.
i went onto the veranda, the table was set,
the water knocked against the legs of the table, the sideboard.
and yet she had to come in, the faceless one,
the one i knew was shaking the door
in the hall, near the darkened staircase, but in vain,
so high had the water already risen in the room.
i took the handle, it was hard to turn,
i could almost hear the noises of the other shore,
the laughter of the children playing in the tall grass,
the games of the others, always the others, in their joy.

michelle flores "girl in water"

i woke up, it was the house where i was born.
it was raining softly in all the rooms,
i went from one to another, looking at
the water that shone on the mirrors
piled up everywhere, some broken or even
pushed between the furniture and the walls.
it was from these reflections that sometimes a face
would emerge, laughing, of a gentleness
that was different from what the world is.
and, with a hesitant hand, i touched in the image
the tossled hair of the goddess,
beneath the veil of the water
i could see the sad, distracted face of a little girl.
bewilderment between being and not being,
hand that is reluctant to touch the mist,
then i listened as the laughter faded away
in the halls of the empty house.
here nothing but forever the gift of the dream,
the outstretched hand that does not cross
the fast flowing water where memories vanish.

yves bonnefoy

Friday, June 19, 2009

passer by, these are words

on my front lawn is a big old cherry tree. it has suffered through harsh winters. it has suffered through plagues of locusts (or some bug), it has suffered through drought. yet it comes back in a sort of withered and eventually leafy form each year. last year for the first time in seven years it flowered and bore fruit. the birds were ecstatic!! i'm going to tuck some images of part of its weathered trunk in with today's post..

i was mentioning yesterday about music and how i love to stumble across music and musicians who really float my boat. so today i'm going to say much the same thing about poets. i admire poets who write as if it really mattered. they can be quiet, simple, state obvious truths elegantly or be flamboyant and earthy and rich and leave nothing to my imagination but if they hit that hard to define and harder to describe sweet spot then - they're in!!!

yves bonnefoy is one such poet. i didn't know much about him - and yet when i read his work i felt that good feeling of "oh yeah i get what you're saying." so i'll share this lovely piece with you today. it makes its place hovering at the interstice between what is and what might be (and who among us is brave enough to decide where that is or might be?)


a measure of the distance between what is and what we wish for is contained in our experiencing of degrees of wistfulness and longing that i characterize as a form of conscious suffering.

if you allow the details of a moment to enter you in all their fullness, the riches of this world become so apparent and overwhelming that feelings of wishing for more, feelings of the inadequacy of what is, actually diminish.

bonnefoy’s writing describes the transitory nature of “here” and “there”, “this” and “that”: thresholds. places where ideas melt, deliquesce one into the other.

passer-by, these are words

passer-by, these are words. but instead of reading
i want you to listen: to this frail
voice like that of letters eaten by grass.

lend an ear, hear first of all the happy bee
foraging in our almost rubbed-out names.
it flits between two sprays of leaves,
carrying the sound of branches that are real
to those that filigree the still unseen.

then know an even fainter sound, and let it be
the endless murmuring of all our shades.
their whisper rises from beneath the stones
to fuse into a single heat with that blind
light you are as yet, who can still gaze.

may your listening be good! silence
is a threshold where a twig breaks in your hand,
imperceptibly, as you attempt to disengage
a name upon a stone:

and so our absent names untangle your alarms.
and for you who move away, pensively,
here becomes there without ceasing to be.

yves bonnefoy