Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Bits and Bobs. And a bit of a Rant.

It's action stations at Crooked Cottage, and after I've gotten through a pile of work, I need to sort out the chicken bordello in anticipation of the arrival of some sweet dears tomorrow. We're going chicken buying! As well as attending a Spring Festival. And would you look at that tempus fugit?

Without any further delay, here are some bits and bobs for your Friday...

How would you like this at the bottom of your garden? Settle in and just imagine...an abundance of honeysuckle is also compulsory.
Image via pinterest, but from this rather posh site, where there are people called "Monty", "Rog", and "Freddie". I say.

Anyone who knows me, will also know that I tend to gnash my teeth and look a little wild-eyed whenever I encounter certain New Age speak. I'm a bit woo, (a bit! I ride a broomstick fuhgoodnesssakes), and I'm not entirely impatient with all of it, but...a lot of it I find flaky, and a little delusional. Certainly condescending, (I detest receiving lectures on "abundance" from people who don't make any of their own). It's the New Age fairy floss and flake I tend to refer to as Unicorns Shitting Rainbows. It's when the Wild Mystery and beauty, as well as all the raw, primal darkness has been removed, then airbrushed, declawed, and stunningly dumbed down into something bland, and domesticated, (as well as domesticating). But it's highly marketable stuff. I'm wary of any belief system that is swallowed whole without question, and which tells you that you are "too much in your head" and "not embracing the light of your divine self" (oh puhlease) if you do want to think critically, or question anything. This particular brand of New Age thinking seems to require passivity and blind acceptance. To my mind, that's a cult.*

Phew. Rant over. Anyway...I enjoyed reading this essay by Jacqueline Woodward-Smith over on her sacred activism blog, Radical Honeybee. It really does speak beautifully about the female spirit, the goddess, and the (repackaged) dualism of the New Age. 

Speaking of the goddess, and also feminine embodiment practices...(see? I told you I was woo), Awakening Women are offering a Saraswati sadhana starting in November. I've done a number of these retreats, and they are the real deal. No rainbow shitting unicorns. I understand it's not for everyone. This is something that speaks to me as it plugs into my years of yoga practice, as well as my mostly misspent youth studying buddhism, (even though I'm not a buddhist). There's meditation involved. For myself I have found the teachings and practices wise, authentic, exquisitely beautiful (but never airbrushed!), and no bullshit. I've always felt a strong connection with Saraswati - she's long been a significant energy in my life. She sits on my desk in my studio, and I pick flowers from my garden for her : )

Did you know that Harper Lee's friends once gave her a year's worth of wages for Christmas? Just so that she could sit down and write for a year? Isn't that the most amazing gift? But oh the pressure! "well then, I'd better write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel so they don't feel like that was a waste. Oh look! I did!". Because yes, To Kill a Mockingbird was the book that she wrote (her only book I believe) and it won the Pulitzer. Such a beautiful story. Yes, I did well up whilst reading this

I'm so enjoying Robert Plant's new album, Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar. 'Rainbow' is the second track on the album.

Violette - a French language film about the relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and a somewhat stalkerish fellow writer by the name of Violette Leduc. I love de Beauvoir's work and find her fascinating. Here's a review of the film in The Guardian.  

How I love her style

Mudgirls! A Natural Building Collective. Love it!

Happy weekending lovelies! I may see you next week...avec les poulets! xxx

*I know some people find it all helpful, and each absolutely to their own. But it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to ; ) 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Samhain? Or Beltaine? And Things of a Random Nature.

Well then, that's all done. *Polishes slightly tarnished halo*.

I've been sucked up the hoover of the past couple of days, and spat out t'other side, (it's that time of the year for me). And now I'm sitting in my studio, getting on with various things I've had to neglect. And distance does make the heart grow fonder in that respect. It's good to be able to get stuck in again.

Thought I'd just toss some random thoughts about the room, to ease myself back in here. And also so that I don't get too settled in, as I need to rush off again and give my attention to Other Things. So 'ere goes...

It's been huge (dark) chocolate-y fun reading aloud Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book of an evening. We all gather around, (the Bloke, the Moon, cats and dog), and I read to the assembled tribe. The Bloke doses in the armchair, which apparently increases the effects of the story, as he enters a twilight world in which he's walking about the graveyard with all the characters. The Moon has been gobbling it all up, and asks for more. There are disappointed wails when it's time for bed.
It just kind of "happened" as a nightly ritual, and I'm very happy to be re-reading this lovely book. I also love doing all the characters' voices. It's all so beautifully imagined.

I just loved my chat t'other day with a dear friend on whatsapp. Said friend is currently all the way over in Portugal. And I'm thinking of her lots, and sending her lots of love.

That "Bliss Balls" (not nearly as rude as it sounds) are quite something, and pack a considerable punch of energy when made with dried cranberries, almond butter, and honey. Among other things.

The first rose to open in my garden (they're about to burst in their hundreds!) is Munstead Wood. Love it! I'm about to revel in my very own mini rose festival! I shall bore you with a ton of pictures in the coming weeks! 
No filter. That red is actually a deep, blood-red, rather than lurid magenta. My photographic skills are such that I couldn't capture the true colour.
The Moon had a dress-up day at school, where the children were to come dressed as what they wanted to be when they grow up. The Moon went as a "Question Mark", because she doesn't know what she's going to be. I thought that was entirely fair enough too, and I've always found that a funny question to ask of a child. Or an adult for that matter.
The Moon's little commentary about it all ended up in the school newsletter, and it's really quite hilarious...

"I intend to walk the sands of Saudi Arabia, and climb Mt Everest, and see the great Pyramids of Giza. 
Or maybe I'll be the new Scarlet Pimpernel.
Maybe I'll be saving children's lives in the Royal Children's Hospital, helping them with unknown diseases, or cancer. Or working in a laboratory.
Or sitting with my time and writing a novel, and be like William Shakespeare.
Or maybe I'll be under the hood of a car. 
Maybe I'll be debating about a foreign land.
But it's a mystery! 
I know something, I want to change the world!"
~ the Moon.

It's now approaching the 11th hour as far as tax time here is concerned. So I'm going to make an attempt to nail that load of 'possum poo, and get it done. It's not only the tedium of the exercise that results in my intense procrastination around the task. I'm also quite intimated by the tax dept, and nervous about Doing It Wrong, and therefore getting into trouble as a result, (yes, I know I could get an accountant, but really, I cannae be bothered). I always imagine the tax dept as some ancient labyrinthine citadel, with its baffling and complicated rules and instructions; at the heart of which lies a creature terrifyingly similar to that in Pan's Labyrinth. Waiting to gobble the unsuspecting, the greedy and covetous, or the plain ol' hapless.  

It would appear that many are gearing up for Halloween. Which is a fine thing indeed - if you are in the Northern Hemisphere. Because you northern bods are in Autumn, and All Hallows Eve is moste definitely Autumn's strange and wondrous love child. And should really remain so.

 It's kind of odd here to be even pretending all that dark loveliness on the last day of October in this part of the world. Spring's exuberant fertility here is de trop for such a festival of Mystery, and the Dead. I mean, here I am, in bright sunshine, catching whiffs of cherry blossom, jasmine, orange blossom, and lilac, with about ten thousand bees overhead doing their thing. See all these pictures? It's nature getting all sexy. Nothing to do with death. And, well...exhibit A:

Cherry blossoms up in the wild orchard-y bit of my garden. 
Imagine in Engerland or Americee, celebrating Halloween at the back-end of April? Dissonance anyone?

So, although I am sighing fondly over northern images of leaves falling, and the melancholy beauty that is Autumn, Beltaine is much more appropriate for us at this time of year, just as Samhain feels more like an end of April thing for us here.

Of course, here, we've inherited a culture that we haven't adapted to our seasons. We crave the heritage and the rituals of our ancestors, but when we extract them from their place and season, they almost become caricatures of themselves. Although, you could say the same thing about festivals anywhere that become consumerist pantomimes. 

Still, there's a lot to be said for cultural celebrations and festivals, and the spiritual and community connections they provide. It's really why a lot of people in this part of the world celebrate Halloween at the end of October. Although the wider culture here has turned the festival into something heavily commercial and consumer driven. Like Chrimblymass - another Festival of Excess.

However, I did have a strange and quite fascinating (to me) dream early yesterday morning that involved Autumnal pumpkins, the rampant coiling tendrils of pumpkin plants, (that beckoned to me as do fingers), and Sleeping Beauty. I'm clearly confused. 

Well, best of the season to you, whatever season in which you dwell. Chat soon.