Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Yes, they can be pretty

3-tatiana visa photo - 28-12-2009_3430 copy

The timing is perfect for this photo. It’s a time when we, as a family, have been having a great number of passport-type photos taken for various bureaucratic processes.

In December 2009, my little bird was planning to fly the nest. It was a very exciting and very scary time for us all. She wasn’t just leaving home, but going to the opposite end of the earth (or so it felt… just across the Atlantic really). There were forms to be filled in, visas to deal with, belongings to sort through and the whole letting go process. I was the official passport photo photographer of the family. I’d just finished doing Tat’s visa photo and was sitting gazing at that lovely face. I don’t usually apply special effects to photos, but that day, I was clicking away at the photo and seeing what effects it produced.

Ah, my little girl… so beautiful, even in the dreaded passport/visa photos. See? Passport photos can be pretty! I do, however, hope that this latest run of officialdom is the last we’ll do for a little while. What say you?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Of strength and courage

It takes strength to stand strong in the face of your challenges, however big or small they are. Today, the 16th of December, is an auspicious day for me and my family. In South Africa, it's known as the Day of Reconciliation - more on that later - but we know it as the Day of the Vow.

lagerPhoto by Peter Thomas

My old friend Peter sums up the happenings of the original Day of the Vow or Day of the Covenant on his site. There are many more sites that give the history of that day from various perspectives. This blog is not intended to recount history or morals or right vs. wrong in any way. It’s a remembrance of my ancestors, what they went through and what we’ve been through and the lessons we can carry from that.

On that day, so long ago, a group of a few hundred Voortrekkers (pioneers) came face to face with over 10 000 Zulu warriors. The Voortrekkers made a laager from their ox wagons and defeated the Zulus, killing more than 3000 men, while, of the Voortrekkers, only 3 were lightly injured. As I said before, I’m not going into the rights and wrongs of the battle. The lesson to be learned here, for me, is one of unity and strength and courage. It took great courage and strength to pack their worldly goods into a wagon and trek across country, over mountains, rivers and lands where they would most certainly be attacked. Alone, we need strength and courage to face our challenges, but banding together… as families, as friends, as communities, we can do great things!

Much, much later, South Africa renamed this day to Day of Reconciliation. It’s a day that was created on the foundation of the Day of the Vow to reconcile the people of South Africa and to create a day of unity and healing. The men who came together to create this new day displayed courage and strength. It takes continued courage and strength for the people of South Africa to build on that dream of reconciliation.

When we think of courage and strength, it’s often in times of great strife and ‘war’ with our challenges. Certainly, those are times we need to call on what courage we have and to be strong. Sometimes, just standing up and doing what we believe to be right takes even more courage and strength. Sometimes, the daily grind of living takes even more.

Way back, my ancestors, at one point, were kicked off their farm, which was burnt to the ground by the British. The men were political prisoners and the women and children were put into concentration camps. When they came out, they lived for a time under an oak tree, baking their daily bread in an earth-oven. Yes, they had strength and they had courage. I like to believe that we’ve inherited that strength.

Over the rooftops


The ripple earthy-red of clay-tiled rooftops is a visual that will always take me back to Sao Paulo. Yes, it’s found in other cities, towns and villages of Brazil and in many other countries, but Sao Paulo was such a huge part of my personal journey, that my thoughts go there.

What you’re looking at here are two houses. The tall house on the one side and it’s neighbour, glued to its side. It’s typical of housing layouts in much of Brazil. There is no space between the houses, which are long and narrow, often a series of rooms stacked one behind the other with connecting doors. It’s rare to find a passage.

I love skies and clouds and cloudy skies. I have far too many photos scattered through my albums of clouds, but what I’ve noticed is that many of them are where I’m in a confined area gazing out. It’s a pattern that’s repeated itself over and over from childhood. I was the child who had “… would do far better if she didn’t spend her days gazing out the window” or “…daydreams too much” in almost every school report, particularly the early years. I think much of that dreamer still exists. There’s many a time I find myself gazing at the horizon, thankfully, usually not from a confined space.

Saturday, 07 December 2013

A spirit of change

As I’m facing some big changes of my own now, today seems a day to reflect on changes I see around me. Last night, the news broke that Nelson Mandela has died. It didn’t take me long to get slightly irritated, as I’ve never been one for putting any one man on a pedestal and, the way many were speaking, you’d swear he was a god. Yes, that was my first reaction and it wasn’t pretty.

mandela birds by Dov Fedler
Dov Fedler pays tribute to Nelson Mandela with this image of freedom, set about Robben Island

My feelings came from a mixed bag of history, events and beliefs. Yes, we were personally affected, like the rest of my countrymen in South Africa, when FW de Klerk handed the country over to Nelson Mandela. For a long time, I saw Nelson Mandela as a man who wasn’t imprisoned unfairly - he’d committed crimes that were, by any standards, punishable. The ‘freedom’ he brought to my homeland was equally debatable, as far as I was concerned. It’s not that I was against it. I was one of those who’d argue for it, but I saw my country spiralling into a cycle of hate and crime. It still has huge issues to work through. Nelson Mandela tried. He started a process. That is not the point of this blog though. If you're interested in that side of things, there's an article in the Telegraph that beats the subject to death, but you'll get where I'm coming from.


There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
~Nelson Mandela

People change. Nelson Mandela, I believe, changed. He changed from the radical who felt it right to use force to make a point to a man who preached and practiced peace, a man who found a deep wisdom in himself and stood up for what was right. He spoke of love, not hate. He spoke out against violence, war and hate. He spoke against domination by any one race or colour. He spoke of freedom. He spoke of being strong. He spoke of personal power.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
~Nelson Mandela

I still feel that too much fuss is being made over one man.... a very human man who made his fair share of rather dramatic mistakes and has a pretty chequered past. He's no more to be honoured than many who do great things, but aren't high profile, even those who make a huge difference in just one person because they smiled at them when that smile was badly needed.

I want to end this with the words of a friend. She put it so well at a point where I was screaming inside from seeing Mandela's face everywhere I turned. So the world may mourn the death of its hero (all heroes have their dark side, right?). I'll admire the man for the wisdom he found in himself and his public fight for equality for all colours and creeds.

Its so normal to mourn someone you love... whether you really know them or not... whether you see them or you don't... whether they are rich or poor... every minute people in the world are dying YES! so does that mean someone who has touched your life in some way... even a distant way as in books or television or making a change in your country shouldn't be honored and mourned over? the world needs to stop being picky... the conformists need to conform and the non conformists need to non conform and that's ok... but allow people to grieve in whatever way they want to! maybe you don't step out every morning to machine guns and bombs and maybe a family member is lying in hospital trying to stay alive and maybe you have no family at all... maybe you are an orphan in a valley somewhere wishing for Peace... maybe you don't even know when your next meal is coming... so instead of all the opinions and all the judgments on a man who clearly said IM NOT A SAINT... maybe you can take time to appreciate what you do have right now... and allow the present moment to be as it is... Mr Mandela you changed my life... because of you, I have very special friends and I don't want to kill them.... I love my family and friends.., I love my country and all the people in it... yes some people are really bad... and yes Government does not always get it right... but just for today can we show our humanity for people who are deeply sadden by our country's loss... he lives on within us all...

Nicole Hayward

mandela quote

Friday, 06 December 2013

#1 - The 3 of us

Most people who know us associate ‘the 3 of us’ with myself, Jurgis and Tatiana. This goes back a little further to the first ‘3 of us’.


I married young. Jurgis had just gotten a transfer from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, so we decided to cut our two year engagement back and get married right away. I look at this photo and I can feel that youth and all the uncertainty that came with it. In Cape Town, I struggled to find work. We had one car that Jurgis used for work, so I was stuck at home and intensely bored. “Have a baby,” he said. “It will keep you busy,” he said. Right. Oh the folly of youth! I don’t regret the baby for a moment, but we really could have waited a while.

Ceinwen was born on the 28th of December, 1987. I had just arrived home after my caesarean. It was a typical summer’s day in Cape Town with hot, bright sun. It was a proud day. We had our little girl and Jurgis had just bought our new car, a Toyota Avante Twincam - our idea of a Porche. I still remember its colour! Desert Rose. It’s funny the kind of thing one remembers. When I went into labour in the wee hours of the morning, Jurgis pushed the car, with me seated inside, down the driveway and to the corner before starting it, as he didn’t want the neighbours to know. We had one particularly nosy neighbour. It was this little photo shoot that brought her out. She couldn’t understand how I’d managed to have a baby without her knowing.

We’d barely gotten in with my tiny new-born bundle when Jurgis’ dad arrived. That’s his car in front. I was ecstatic! Not. He was absolutely the last person I wanted to see. The morning after I got out of hospital, Jurgis was outside mowing the lawn and his dad actually berated me for letting him do what he considered women’s work. Oh yes, we had an enviable relationship. If’ I’d just had some inkling that day of what the future held for all in the photo, I certainly would have treasured the moments all the more, even those moments with my father-in-law.

There’s an oft-repeated and very, for me, poignant lesson in this post to treasure every moment of every day. It comes at what is usually a very sad time of the year for me. Today, I will celebrate her life and I will celebrate the life of my other daughter and best friend, Tatiana. I will celebrate the time we’ve had and all the time we will have together.

Thursday, 05 December 2013

Photo-writing challenge

writerIndeed…  ‘Tis me

Ok, so I said I was lousy at getting things written. I know how to write, but tend to sit staring at the screen for several eternities and still coming up blank. It’s not as though I have nothing to say and my head is buzzing all day long with… well… stuff. Trouble is, most of that stuff is not what I can write about (protecting the innocent and the not-so-innocent).

I was looking at some photos tonight and hit on an idea that might just work. Now don’t go placing any bets. My track record here isn’t exactly stellar, but let’s see if I can make it work.

I have absolutely tons of albums on my hard drive and really need to sort through the photos. That will entail going through each album to weed out the crud and make sure there are no duplicates. I’ve decided to take ONE photo in each album and write about it. I may allow myself more photos per entry, but I’m going to try to use words instead of more images to illustrate an event, person, idea, and so on.

Can I make this work? Time will tell…

write bleed

Monday, 28 October 2013

Dog tired


Resting after a morning of digging potatoes

Ok, so she was chasing crows while I dealt with the spuds

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sombre tints

light dark

Every life has dark tracts and long stretches of sombre tint, and no representation is true to fact which dips its pencil only in light, and flings no shadows on the canvas.

~ Alexander MacLaren

Friday, 25 October 2013

A wanderer’s prayer

I have a vast playlist that I put onto random, so I never know what type of music will come up next while I’m working. There’s nothing like a random upbeat song to perk you up when you’d normally click on a sad song or the penny-drop moment when an inspirational song plays and gives you food for thought you weren’t aiming for. Just as I was coming in to have some lunch, this song came up. It’s in Afrikaans, so I’ve written out the lyrics (hopefully correctly!) and translated them to the best of my ability, keeping in mind that poetry doesn’t always lend itself to translation.

I want to dedicate this to my dearest friend and fellow ‘swerwer’, Felicity. It would have been your birthday today. Amanda Strydom reminds me so much of you. You were there alongside me for much of that path I was on and knew my dragons. I miss you.

Pelgrimsgebed by Amanda Strydom

vader god, u ken my naam
my binnegoed en my buite staan
my grootpraat en my klein verdriet
my vashou aan alles wat verskiet
u ken my vrese en my hoop
die pad wat ek so kaalvoet loop
die pad het u lankal berei
u maak die pad gelyk vir my

alle pelgrims keer weer huis toe
elke swerwer kom weer tuis
ek verdwaal steeds op die groot pad
soekend na u bordinghuis

moeder god u ken my waan
my ego en my regopstaan
die drake waarteen ek bly en veg
u wys my altyd weer die weg
u het my met u lug geseen
die lug stroei ek oor ieder een
net u weet hoe my toekoms lyk
ek het niks, u maak my ryk

alle pelgrims keer weer huis toe
elke swerwer kom weer tuis
ek verdwaal steeds op die groot pad
soekend na u bordinghuis

alle pelgrims keer weer huis toe
elke swerwer kom weer tuis
ek verdwaal steeds op die groot pad
soekend na u bordinghuis

father god, you know my name
my inner self and my outward stance
my big talk and my little grief
my clinging to all that fades
you know my fears and my hopes
the path i walk barefoot
this path you prepared long ago
you smooth this path for me

all pilgrims head home again
each wanderer returns home
i’m still lost on the great path
looking for your boarding house 

mother god you know my delusions
my ego and my standing tall
the dragons that i stay and fight
you always show me the way again
you blessed me with your light
this light i spread to everyone
you know what my future holds
i have nothing, you make me rich

all pilgrims head home again
each wanderer returns home
i’m still lost on the great path
looking for your boarding house

all pilgrims head home again
each wanderer returns home
i’m still lost on the great path
looking for your boarding house

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Well, stone the crows!

crowdamage 1Wish I had photos of the crows in the field, but they’re not terribly sociable
unless they’re laughing at me from the treetops…
so a photo of the damage to the potatoes will have to do.

It’s not for nothing that I’ve had the song, “Three black crows” by Blackmore’s Night going through my head all morning.


I was headed out to the sheds when I saw a field of black where the potato harvest was waiting. I have to say, I love crows. I love when they sit in the trees and craw at me as I go past, as though they’re sharing a really funny joke. As pretty as the sight is, that does not mean I like seeing them all over the grain or potatoes. Crows like sharing. They’ll dig up the potatoes close to the surface, peck randomly at the potato, then, in their generosity, leave the remains of the potato for us. I’ve tried to tell them that their notion of generosity isn’t working, but to no avail.

I was going to put out stakes with ribbons of plastic into the fields and, with that in mind, I was scouting through the sheds. In my hunt, I found the recycling bin… Beer Cans! So we have stakes, a bit of twine and beer cans. I reckon that makes this the most kitsch potato field around!

crowdamage 2

Recycling at its best!


Monday, 21 October 2013


light at the end of the tunnel Is that really a light at the end of the tunnel I see?

Why is it that I can come up with a bucket-load of ideas for everyone else, but can't put two words together on a page? I look around and friends are prepping for NaNoWriMo and I know they'll do brilliantly. Here's me, the wordless one. It seems I've lost myself somewhere along the line or is it that that part of me never really existed. Oh! Pah! Who am I trying to fool? I know I have the ability to write at least reasonably well. So where's it gone and, more to the point, why the heck did it run off in the first place? Who gave it permission to go?

There was a time when I would churn out 3 or more blogs a day, often interspersed with creative writing and even art. Me? Create? Did I really? Even the most elementary of creativity seems to escape me now.

Forget wordy blogs. The idea of coming up with 140 characters for something like Twitter is even beyond me... or a line or two for a status update on the likes of Facebook. Pulling teeth would be easier. Friends ask for updates, but I have absolutely no idea what to say or how to say it!

What if I were to just write mindless drivel until the so-called 'muse' returns? Now there's a way to get rid of the last few loyal readers! Do you know just how tempting it is to repost earlier blogs? There are new readers who've never seen them.

Or perhaps I should just write... It's a bit like running, after all. If you don't actually don your trainers, step outside and start putting one foot in front of the other, you'll continue to veg on the couch... right? So, apologies in advance for any waffle that may follow. Hopefully a few gems will emerge from the ashes of my creativity.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Still waters

still waters


See how calm the surface of the water is? That was me once... and then... *throws a stone into the water* the water ripples and churns. That's what I became.

If we sit here long enough, it will go back to being still again. It will go back to being calm.

But the stone is still under there. It's now part of the lake. It might look as it did before, but it's forever changed.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The cow, the dog, the moon

I have this wonderful meditation by Gerry Gavin “Standing shamanic meditation”. It’s a meditation that leaves me feeling grounded in Mother Earth’s energy and filled with a sense of peace. I’ve been wanting to go out into the open field lately, especially at the full moon, but just didn’t get the chance (or the gumption) to do it. Granted, the weather hasn’t been conducive to midnight jaunts either. Tonight, there was a breeze, but it wasn’t cold. Out here on the farm, the air was fresh and sweet. The time was right, even though the Moon was past her fullness.

20130913_191816 smField of dreams

I didn’t want to be surprised by the arrival of the dog during my meditation, so I called Kaiser to join me. He settled himself in the thick, soft grass a couple of paces away from my feet. Normally, he’d lean up against me, but I think he sensed I needed his presence while wanting space. I looked up into a pair of glowing eyes. Ah! Company! The white-faced cow regarded me with curiosity. There was no moon, as the sky was blanketed with drifting dark cloud. I appreciated the dark though, as I wanted to go unnoticed.

It was as I was drawing energy up from the Earth that I felt the Moon break through her cover and light up the field around me. It turned my meditational time into something magical. I still feel the tingling in my hands and feet.

If I had a wish tonight, it would be that everyone could experience something like this…. a deep connection with our Mother Earth and a sense her energy, bathed in the moon’s light.

1377608395399Apologies and thanks to the unknown (to me) artist.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The indestructible spirit of the WWOOFer

A little while ago, I wrote an article for a magazine few people would get to read. It’s the WWOOF Ireland’s official magazine. I walked into the kitchen just the other day to find my own face laughing up at me. A goofier photo of me would have been hard to find! The photo was taken by a fellow WWOOFer, a lovely German girl with an bubbly spirit and a camera attached to her arm. She was relentless and the tiny hedges didn’t provide enough cover for me to hide behind.

Indestructable spirit of the wwoofer article - Corrianne sm

It was with mild surprise that I found they’d published my article. The article in question was inspired by news of one particular WWOOFer who’d moved on from the farm we were at, but it brought to mind many others I’d met and some of the incredible tasks they did with smiles and a healthy dose of fun.

The indestructible spirit of the WWOOFer
by Corrianne Lasevicius

Indestructable spirit of the wwoofer article - photo 2 small b&w

Long ago, when my friend suggested we try our hand at WWOOFing, my perception of WWOOFers was, at the very least, enormously different from what I have come to know of them. She described them as mostly young people who help out on farms. My imagination filled in the details of sun-kissed youth singing and chatting their way through apple harvests. Now, it’s not as though that never happens, but reality has painted a rather different portrait in my mind. We’ve been WWOOFing for just over a year now. The farms we’ve worked on have varied greatly, as have the hosts, but this article is about those busy ‘worker bees’ who flit though Ireland’s fields and gardens.

My thoughts go back to a German chap who was working with us at one farm. He had just left, but as happens among WWOOFers, we kept in touch for a while. He arrived at his new host, keen on the experience he’d be getting on that farm, as it was very different to the one he’d just left. The morning after his arrival, he went downstairs for breakfast to find the place empty. A note had been left on the table. The family had rushed in to hospital with the host who had suffered a heart attack after finding one of his sheep had been killed in a rather grim manner. The sheep had left behind a new-born lamb, which our intrepid WWOOFer had to care for and care for it, he did.

In what other field would you find a pair of young girls hauling logs that would make many men consider using machines and chains; all the while practicing their song they’d learnt for the local craic? There was the team of 3 who were instructed to empty the ancient glasshouse beds, the thin layer of soil hiding mostly very large rocks, then to fill them with the same plus a generous helping of manure and compost, only to be told to empty them completely for restoration.

Mud, mud, glorious mud! It isn’t just hippo’s that enjoy wallowing in the mud. Ask any Irish farmer and you’ll hear about last year’s rains. WWOOFers waded through it, turning the soil, planting, weeding – an especially delightful task in the mud. None of that came even remotely close to the sheer pleasure of chasing stroppy pigs through mud. For some reason, the same mud that sucks your wellies off has no effect on a prancing pig! We strongly suspected that the pig was enjoying watching the tiny band of WWOOFers struggle through the mud to get to her, knowing it was a futile task and we’d ultimately resort to bribery with juicy beets. Still, you’d often find the WWOOFers stealing a few moments to chat to the pigs or feed them tasty treats from the kitchens.

Indestructable spirit of the wwoofer article - photo 1 sm b&w

In keeping with the theme of Irish weather, the story must be told of the team of WWOOFers who were digging out an entire formal garden to be replanted. In the space of an hour, the weather changed dramatically every five minutes, quite literally. One enterprising WWOOFer decided to time the changes. In that hour, the ever-creative Irish weather threw sun, rain, hail, wind, then more rain, sun, hail and wind at them. It was a source of great amusement and entertainment to that team of workers.

I watched a diminutive Japanese girl overcome her horror at picking sawfly larvae off thorny gooseberry bushes to the extent that she eventually made it her personal mission to eradicate every last one of them. As she went to war on the sawfly, her attacks grew more creative. She bore her scratches by the gooseberry thorns with pride. You have to admire the spirit of the two Italian boys who dug a trench the entire length of a field with trowels. No, we don’t know why they chose to do it with trowels, but we do know that they had plenty of energy to go hiking afterwards.

One of the reasons we opted for our current farm was the goat milking. Having worked with goats before and loved them, sweet darlings that they were, I was keen to befriend another goat. Wait! This one has horns and knows how to use them. If just the right leaves from her favourite tree aren’t offered, she’s likely to use the horns on you. I learnt that the hard way. Day one left me with bruises. Day two left me without milk in the bucket, though the dogs enjoyed the spoils on the floor. I’m pretty sure that it’s the WWOOFer spirit that drove me back to her side for another go on day three. We’re friends now... at least, on days when all the stars are aligned.

Is there any other ‘career’ where the workers drag themselves home at the end of the day, exhausted and bone-weary, but rise to go back to the same work with a spring in their step, chatting and singing all the way... voluntarily?

Indestructable spirit of the wwoofer article - photo 3 small

Saturday, 01 June 2013

In my own light


I was tossing logs onto the woodpile in the wood shed, my mind on other things…. stacking wood is one of those tasks that allow for introspection and daydreaming. It was a sunny day outside and light steamed in from the door. Suddenly, the woodshed became dark. My head spun around wondering what had blocked my light, but behind me, it was still bright enough. It was a few moments before I realised that it was my own shadow that had fallen on my work and blocked the light.

It was a silly thing, really, but it did get me thinking. So many times when my life becomes shadowed, it’s quite likely that the shadow is just me standing in my own light. On hindsight, I think I do that often. What is my shadow? It’s those moments when my attitude to a situation darkens my world. It’s times when I’m overly critical of myself or those around me. It’s those days when my mind can’t escape the What if’s of my past. Not to be left out are the times when I abuse my body with bad eating habits and a couch-potato lifestyle.

Yes, I get in my own light a lot. Perhaps this could be a reminder to either turn on a light or step aside and let the sun in.

Sunday, 07 April 2013

Daylight savings time saves what exactly?

Not my photo

Clicking on a link where I found a link to another link and so it goes...

Those who know me well know I have huge issues with daylight saving time. Yes, it is nice to have longer evenings, but it's so unnatural! My personal gripe stems from not having the sun where I expect it to be at noon. It takes me ages to adjust.

Why did it then come as such a surprise when I found an article on wildlife deaths due to daylight savings time?

http://goo.gl/PExcu - This link goes to the translated version of a Danish site

In short, animals that usually use the quieter hours of the morning to cross busy roads suddenly find themselves in peak traffic. As a result, many are killed, at least, until they, like me, finally adjust their own 'clocks' to our manipulation.

Can someone tell me why we really Need DST??


Monday, 18 March 2013

Nature’s cleaner


Back when we worked at Killruddery, I discovered Nature’s handcleaner. In years past, we’ve always used all sorts of lotions and potions to clean our hands when we had no bathroom facilities on hand. Working with the animals and often giving the pigs some fairly greasy kitchen leftovers and then washing the containers, one day, I, in desperation, wiped my hands on the wet grass. It was amazing! It cut through the grease far quicker than most soaps would! I found myself a lush clump of grass and swished out the containers… Granted, not sparkly kitchen clean, but clean enough that I didn’t have to carry dirty containers back and… my hands were clean!

Since then, grass has become my first choice for cleaning when I’m out of doors and it just feels so good!

Saturday, 09 March 2013

He preached with his eyes closed

Yes, he did indeed preach with his eyes closed, but that was the least of what made Father Brennan unique. I remember the first time I met him very clearly. Jurgis and I had started dating. He decided to take me to the little (make that ‘tiny’) Catholic church in our neighbourhood just so that I could see it. I’d never been to a Catholic church before.

St Vincent's Catholic Church - Algoa Park

It was indeed a tiny church, two narrow rows of pews. Not the kind of church you can lose yourself or be inconspicuous in. To say Father Brennan was remarkable would be an understatement. Jurgis’ family were Catholic, by long-standing national/family tradition and purely in name, barely making it to church for the requisite christenings, marriages or funerals. Jurgis himself had probably only set foot in that little church a couple of times… and yet, Father B (to save me typing out his name each time) remembered him.

We walked in and found ourselves mid-church seats, neither of us being eager to attract attention. Jurgis hadn’t been in ages and I was out of my depth, not knowing what to do with all that ritual that everyone seemed to have been born knowing. I was just figuring out when to kneel, when to stand, when to open the little prayer book and flap around looking for the right words (often ending up on the wrong page and pretending I knew what I was saying) when the collection was taken up. Now I’m familiar with collections. All churches have them in one form or another. I’m even familiar with the ‘turn around and greet your neighbour’ bit. What I wasn’t prepared for was Father B himself. He swept down from his pulpit and stopped to chat with each member of the congregation. Yes, there were that ‘many’. He approached us and I prepared myself for the “Hello, nice to meet you.” What I got was more along the lines of “Faith! And it’s good to meet your future wife! You’ll be coming here for the wedding, won’t you?” Father B was an Irishman with a voice designed for cathedrals, not tiny churches with 20 occupants. Every face in the little church turned to watch his sheer pleasure at our impending nuptials we knew nothing about at the time.

That wasn’t the end of my experience of the dear Father. The sermon was yet to come. He stood, hands folded across the front of his chest, closed his eyes and swayed slightly… back and forth… back and forth. I thought he was preparing himself or offering some sort of internal blessing, but the entire sermon was delivered like that! I was so fascinated, I don’t remember a word of the sermon. Ok, that and the fact that it is now many many years ago.

Fast forward a time and a half. We went back to Father B’s tiny church after our engagement, perhaps to show him that his prophesying was indeed accurate. “Faith and you’ll surely be bringing the little ones here to be christened?” Uh huh. Definitely! We laughed all the way home.

On hindsight, we should have gotten married in that little church. I think our memories of our wedding would have been very different. As it was, we got married in a vast cathedral in town - a place not one of us enjoyed and came fraught with its own politics and issues. If I have any advice for anyone considering their nuptials it would be to find themselves a Father B and avoid the grandeur of vast halls. Sadly, we never saw him again, but he definitely left his mark on our memories.

Saturday, 02 March 2013

Life ‘n death

large_lone_oak_tree_1Image courtesy of Free Irish Photos

As spring makes its vibrant presence known, my mind, heart and soul is tuned into vibrant life. I celebrate life. All around me, the earth is awakening and shaking its feathers out. You can almost hear the tiny leaf buds bursting through the ground in search of the sun. I celebrate my own life too. My life is satisfying and each day that goes by, I’m grateful for new experiences and good health. I could go on, but I wanted to talk about death and no, this is not, in my opinion, a morbid subject.

A few people in my circle of friends and family have experienced death recently, either that of someone close to them or a beloved pet… perhaps even the death of a dream. It happens. It’s part of the cycle of life. The whole point of the ‘cycle’ is that it continues. We’re born, but we’re not born from nothing. As we live, life and death are part of our passage through time. When we die, however we choose to finally ‘go’, we return to the earth to once again nourish life.

We have a family joke that goes back for years where we vowed to donate HRM’s body to science (yes, it is possible - http://hta.gov.uk/index.cfm) when he goes. That should keep the scientists fascinated for a time, I’m sure. Death, to us, has never been a morbid or scary subject, though we do go through heartbreak when we lose someone close to us, but that is because we miss them dearly.

There are so many bewildering options for when a loved one dies - or oneself, if you’re doing some advanced preparation. We’ve been there, sadly saying goodbye to far too many who were close to us. Cremation, burial, a bewildering choice of coffins and procedures. Death, like much of life, has become terribly commercial. I can’t think of anything worse to put loved ones through if I were to go! There are good choices though…. Someone posted a link to an article, which got me looking into more articles, which got me reading (you know how it goes) about options and I have to tell you, I think I have found the perfect way to recycle and recreate myself… a tree! I’ve always said that when I die, I want to be planted without a coffin at the foot of a tree, but this is way better, or at the very least, just as good.

The Bios Urn - You get cremated and the ashes are put into a biodegradable pot along with the seed of a tree. The pot then gets planted, so your loved ones can tend the tree and watch it grow. Isn’t that perfect? The tree will absorb the nutrients from the ash, so I’d be part of the tree. This isn’t a dream of extending my life force, but a dream of being able to help nourish a living thing in my own death. That tree would then go on to provide a home and resting place for all the birds I’ve loved to watch. The tree will glory in each season, giving shelter… and possibly food and homes to animals. Even if the tree gets cut down, it’s not that bad. It will warm someone’s hearth, provide furniture or a part of a home, or possibly become the paper onto which a young soul could journal (or do maths - now that’s karma!) as they go through their own life’s journey.

Sunday, 03 February 2013

The forest speaks

forest walk 6


~ ~ ~

There is a sound to the forest. It whispers to my soul. It speaks to me of an ancient earth nourishing the roots it holds, of birds chattering on gently swaying branches, each leaf telling me a story of a wisdom older than man. The endlessly flowing stream reminds me of the passage of time, carrying with it all the pains of the past, cleansing, purifying, healing. Rocks, older than time itself, encourage endurance and speak to me of staying strong and true to myself and my dreams.

~ ~ ~

Forest walk 1

I took a walk. We’ve had some rain, you see. This was the first dry, sunny day. I found unexpected rivers in our country lanes.

forest walk 2

The views were all gorgeous!

forest walk 3


forest walk 4

I do love gorse! The gorse here is, to me, symbolic of gutsy endurance, flowering and bringing sunshine to every view right through the dull grey (and sometimes white) winter.

forest walk 5

The country lane eventually dwindled into a bramble-filled track that also showed signs of rain and snow melt ‘rivers’.

forest walk 7

Roads leading off into the distance have always appealed to me. When they’re in a forest, they’re all the more special!

forest walk 8

I think I’ve found the spot I’d love to build a home!

forest walk 9

The walk back was as lovely as the walk up.

forest walk 10

Even the stones were pretty and fascinating. That stone was half the size of my palm and each black spot is a teeny tiny mushroomy fungus thing :)

All in all, it was a delightful walk and just what this body and soul needed!

Needless to say, a walk on the ‘wild side’, for me, would not have been complete without an ‘incident’. I decided to take a short cut across a water-logged field coming home. Bad idea. Up to the ankles in slimy mud was my lesson-of-the-day. Short cuts aren’t always the right way to go.


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Tuesday, 01 January 2013


2013 fireworks
January 1, 2013. For some reason, the year sounds like something out of a science fiction movie out of my
childhood. It has a bit of an unreal ring to it. I honesty have no idea what this year will bring. Usually I have an idea, but somehow it eludes me right now. Morning might bring clarity.
We spent New Years Eve like we spent Christmas…quietly. Today was an endeavour in domestication, cleaning,  chopping wood and clearing brush. I drew up lists of what I want to plant in the new year.
A friend wished us wonderful new adventures. I think we may just take that on :) What I wish for us? Heady days of happiness, peace, kindness, friendship, laughter….did I say friendship? I wish the same for all those who fill my life!
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