Saturday, 30 January 2010

5th Annual Poetry for Brigid Event

Feel free to copy the following to your blog/facebook/website and spread the word. Let poetry bless the blogosphere once again!

  • WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

  • WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2010

  • WHERE: Your blog

  • WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

  • HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.

  • RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post. Please pass this invitation on.

I have participated in this event for the last couple of years. This year I'm posting early again as I have a busy week ahead. The poem I have selected I found in an anthology called 'Sweet Singers, An Anthology of Carmarthenshire Poems'. I love that it originated in my neck of the woods! I also like the subject matter (the magic that can arise from darkness), as it feels right for me personally at this time in my life, and also at a time of year (Imbolc) when we celebrate the returning light and the end of the dark days of winter.


We are in a state of continual transformation: fresh atoms are continually being reincorporated in us, while others that we received beforehand escape from us.

('De l'Infinito', Giordano Bruno)

Wonderful, what will come out of darkness:

stars, owl voices, sleep;

water, green shoots, bird's eggs

with their own curved darkness;

gemstones; a whole and perfect child

from my unseen recesses; delight

from behind shut lids, finding each other,

fingers and tongues made delicate by night.

Great magic's performed after sunset.

Old alchemists conjuring angels,

witches dancing spirals under the moon;

drum-shamans, their spirit journeys;

three nights in a tomb

Staging a resurrection. Transformations

taking place out of ordinary sight.

Daylight gives us boundaries, fixes

everything. The world separates

into colours and chemicals, figures

and faces. Surfaces appear solid

reliable, unconfused. We can see

to operate complex machinery.

Only darkness permits mixing

of elements, stirring of essences

in secret, combing dark and bright

into new patterns while we sleep; so dawn

finds us transformed, shifted.

Star-particles link us with trees

dolphins and stones, travel through us

creating the universe. Base matter

becomes gold: in the Cauldron

of Annwyn, in the crucible of mind

we're all magicians. The Hidden Stone,

Elixir of Life, eludes us; we've lost

the art of working through touch

with invisible forces: but as darkness

rises, and we grope wildly, perhaps

out of chaos the magic will come right.

- Hilary Llewellyn Williams

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Frozen 2 - The Sequel

I've written on here before about the notion of being predicted by the weather. Once again I find the conditions outside - this time snowbound, frozen solid - mirror my internal process. I feel stuck, frozen, unsure of myself and hence unable to make any progress.

I have found a job, not easy in the current economic climate nor indeed in this area of the country. It's only a part time job, but I'm clinging onto it for now. After 15 years without a paying job, I know how important it is to keep my foot wedging open the door of employment. On the plus side, it is close to where I live and the people are nice. But - I hate it. It's both mind-numbingly boring and hard physically. I don't mind working hard if it's interesting, or being bored if it's easy. But this is hard and boring. Plus - I'm working alone which adds to the boredom factor. Not much use having lovely colleagues if your contact with them is minimal! The hours - a split shift - are horrible. And the pay is lousy.

All in all, not a great job. So I need to find something else. But what? After so many years outside the paid workforce I feel at a distinct disadvantage. Virtually everybody has more experience than me. It seems like a good idea to do some training in something, but to be honest, I'm not sure what I want to do. I was really drawn to the idea of working in Counselling, perhaps Grief Counselling, but I've been told it is not an easy field to make a living at. So I'm stuck, frozen, unsure of my next move.

At the same time I go back and forth in my mind wondering whether I should stay at Halfway Up A Hill, or make a clean break and move on. On the one hand, I have endeavoured since we moved here to make a connection with the land and really put down roots here. I have put a lot of effort into making this a permanent home. I also feel a part of the local community and have lovely neighbours. But...

Halfway Up A Hill is a lot for me to manage alone. It is really too big, and alone I am not physically able to keep on top of many of the jobs that need doing around the place. Though family, friends and IB help where they can, I still have a sense that the place is deteriorating faster than I can maintain it. And there are so many memories of my marriage to T here. Perhaps a clean break, a move to a smaller, more easily maintained property - still within this area - would be better?

Interestingly, in hunting out the URL for the post about being predicted by the weather, I found that I had already written a post entitled 'Frozen', almost exactly a year ago, which echoes - or foreshadows I suppose - some of my current feelings. Perhaps all this is just the winter blues. Or perhaps, as my wise and wonderful friend Anne Hill has just written, it is part of the ongoing struggle of Divorce: Year Two. I don't know.

I am frozen with indecision and quite frankly, yes, I am tired from the ongoing struggle. What I would like to ask anyone kind enough to comment is: What do you think? Any career tips? Any thoughts on moving? Any helpful words on how you got through your own divorce/career crisis/life crisis?

Any advice will be most gratefully received. Over to you...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Ice Age

Like most of the UK, we are currently enduring the most extreme snowy weather for decades.

It began on 21st December, when we awoke to find that heavy snow had fallen during the night. Temperatures had been below freezing for about a week beforehand, so the snow was slow in melting. The driveway here is steep, and leads out to a steep downhill slope, which made it impossible to use the car for a couple of days. However, by the afternoon of 23rd December, enough tarmac was visible for me to try driving into the village. The journey was a little hair raising on the way down, but the journey back was much worse. Although I was only gone for just over an hour, thick snow had begun to fall by the time I returned, and the car wheels spun uselessly as I attempted to get back to Halfway Up A Hill. Cursing my luck and coaxing the car, somehow I made it to the drive entrance, where I was only able to manoeuvre the car in through the gates and safely home with the help of my neighbour and IB, who was waiting anxiously at home for me.

Over the next couple of days, the snow fell, melted a little, re-froze into thick black ice, more snow fell, and repeated the cycle. By Christmas morning, the road to the house was completely impassable by car, and we feared we'd miss the family Christmas happening just a few miles away at my parents' new home. It was eventually arranged that if we could hike out on foot to the main road, Dad would come and pick us up. After making provisions for the animals, we quickly packed some goodies for an overnight stay, and stuffed them and the Christmas presents into two rucksacks. Dressed warmly in our Christmas finery with thick woolly jumpers, coats, scarves and boots, we slid gingerly down the hill where we were very relieved to find Dad waiting for us in a warm car.
Christmas was lovely, we had a wonderful time with Mum, Dad, and my brother, sister-in-law and nephew eating, drinking, laughing and of course watching the first instalment of the much anticipated Dr Who special! The next day, Dad drove us home. Overnight it had rained, and although there was still a lot of ice around, within a couple of days we were able to get the car out and stock up on much needed supplies for ourselves and the critters. We were also lucky enough to get a delivery of heating oil because on New Year's Day, the snow began falling again.
The day had been sunny and clear - although bitterly cold - and we were planning to drive over to Mum and Dad's again just after lunch to see my brother, sister and brother-in-law who were all visiting for New Year. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - one of the chickens (Blanche, who is now quite advanced in chicken years) was looking unwell*, and with the weather being so bitter we decided to leave our departure until after sundown to ensure she was safely tucked up in the hen house for the night. This proved to be our salvation, as just before the sun set the snow began falling heavily. We waited to see if it would ease off, but it continued to fall and in the end we decided not to risk getting stranded.

It was a wise decision. Heavy snow once again blanketed the area, and the car was again stranded on the driveway. I hoped that at some stage we would be able to escape our icy prison and see my siblings, but it proved impossible - and this time Mum and Dad's house was as cut off as ours.

On Monday 4th January, I was due back at work (I currently have 2 part time jobs) and I managed to hike down the hill to catch a bus, this time with the aid of a torch as it was before dawn - yikes! However, it was soon clear that the weather was a severe handicap to business as usual, and I was sent home early from both jobs. Since then, we have had about 6-8" more snow (it snowed all day yesterday) and my place of work has been closed due to the weather.

It is nice not to have to go to work, and the snow looks so pretty. But I am more than tired now of our enforced isolation. The snow is now so deep - with thick, treacherous ice concealed beneath - that even going for a walk is out of the question. Just feeding the chickens is becoming an extreme sport! It is true to say that the novelty of this weather has well and truly worn off for me! And as yet there is no thaw in sight. Luckily we have plenty of provisions and the house is warm. In the meantime, I'm praying for a rise in temperature outside.

* For those worried about Blanche, rest assured that she is currently nestled cosily in a cardboard box next to a radiator in the house and is showing signs of improvement.