Friday, March 31, 2006

On Angels' Breath

text and images aletta mes 2006

I let the images dictate the text and this was the result, creating image prompted poetry.

Going to the Land of Standing Stones

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Word has reached us that travellers are climbing the Faraway Tree to reach the Land of Standing Stones in order to free and warm the stone artists that are trapped within.

It is not easy to reach this land. In an increasingly materialistic world, where so many are driven by a seemingly insatiable desire for power and possessions some folk are so calcified that they may need help up the tree. A host of helpers have come to the tree to help pull you up if you are feeling weighed down by fears, anxiety or a sense of insecurity.

The requirements of an artist cannot be fulfilled by material means so travellers must travel lightly, bringing talismans for those who will help to warm their internal artist.

In the Land of Standing Stones you will calm and concentrate your mind, awaken an artistic vision and embrace the joy of art.

Another Rackham Illustration

Here is another illustration by Rackham that I wanted to share with you. These guys don't look too friendly, but they will probably let Jack pass by on his way up the bean stalk.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another self analysis

As I returned for the night from a great workday in the castle workshop I hear the tinkling of bells from the deck. I have become familiar with this sound. It always seems to invite me to meditation and once I am ready it enters my mind and plants the thought path I should follow. This is the way my wisdom tree calls me and I look forward to answering it. It always directs me to something I need to understand. The tree was the best thing I added to this apartment.

Once in my comfortable lounging pajamas I took my mat into the window alcove and positioned myself in a comfortable position facing the setting sun. No sooner has I gotten into the lotus position and breathed deeply, straightening my spine skyward, I became receptive. I heard the instructions resounding in my brain; Compare your obsessive desire to finish in your fabric creations compared to your creative process in painting.

What do those two have to do with each other? They are completely different activities. From past experiences I have found that the most spiritual truths lay hidden, and there seems to be many hidden agendas in everything we do so I need to look deeper. We think we want to help another and find out we were really helping ourselves. That may be a poor analogy but I know what I mean, so I reluctantly started picking the sentence apart.

First, it is true that when I get deep in the painting process, particularly oils, time has no meaning and I could take weeks, months and even a year to satisfactorily finish an oil. Water colors are quicker, but I throw away many until I reach a point that satisfies me, which makes the finished project take a long time to produce results.

Fabric: I have concentrated on totes as my sewing skills are minimal. So why did I take up this craft when I really do not like to sew? I never enjoyed the process, just the finished product, and now is it happening again. I wanted to design the fabric myself, paint and dye, transfer line drawings into embroidery and create original designs. YES, now I remember, I wanted to create art work in cloth. I started out with purses, but found I was spending way too much time trying to figure out how to sew different embellishments into the purse and maneuver complicated configurations. I hate directions which I consider detrimental. to creativity, so that is why I settled on totes, book covers, etc. but…. ! OH dear,I get it. I have so many ideas that I have now gotten into the mind set of wanting to get this one done as I have already cut out the next one. I have become compulsive on getting this one done when an idea may require more detail work and time. I push through more simply and leave out the great ideas that would make it different. I even stopped taking the time to add the right beads or other time consuming embellishments. I now produce a great tote with no originality.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to break a compulsion

New Bugs

I've been painting this this weekend. I finished doing chores. Did my best to keep away from the computer. I can't resist uploading this. I'm so happy to have finally finished these. Happily, painting doesn't hurt my shoulders as typing this does. Bursitis is not something I welcome in my life. Its disruptive and painful.

This is Mantie. Its one of those really cheap balsa wood puzzles I bought from Christmas bazaar last December. I wish I'd bought more. They're addictive to put together and fun to paint.

This is Antsie.

This is Billy Bee.

This is the Butterfly.

This is Mookie.

my room is ready for me/construction is finished!

Hello ladies, I believe I have finally finished remodeling my room here at Riversleigh and thought I would let you peek into my sanctuary. I decided to plaster the walls a gorgeous periwinkle blue and then added some raised vines stenciled around the windows, but then I discovered a crack in my wall and now the vines are pouring out of that as well. I was arranging my clothes in the wardrobe and happened upon a small door which led into the most wonderful room of all, which is now my secret sanctuary, full of my most adored books, ink wells and paper for writing, getting my good chair in there was a bit of a task but of course the magic of riversleigh allowed it to fit.
I am rusty with my art and writing skills but I think I am ready to stretch my creative skills once again; the wall of windows is all open and the lilacs are in full bloom, their perfume is intoxicating and I believe I am finally ready to leave my room and head off on an adventure...Does anyone have any ideas for my first foray out of riversleigh???? I think I can hear the gypsy's and am dying of curiosity about them, but then I heard word of another land altogether, do tell, what will I discover there?


A Simpler View

I would love to wander about in Sylvia's mansion,
and exploring the Manor House though others eyes,
is a special wonder and caress of passion, but --
if I were to choose a place to live ...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ice Cream with Maya

images by aletta 2006

The reward for years of parenting pays off with the joy of having ice cream with a grandchild.

A Mansion I Admire

This is a mansion in Forestville,NY and I am very curious what it looks like inside. I've always been fascinated with big old houses. I am adding this picture now as we are thinking about entering a mansion and this would be one I'd like to visit.


So I arrive,
Heart in mouth
At the mansion in my mind.

What will I find?

"What do you seek?"

I seek a truth,
a voice with which to speak,
I seek peace.

"How will you find it?"

I will search deep within myself,
Open my heart,
Trust my memories.

"Will it be painless?"

No, the memories will bring tears,
I must shed a layer of skin
but the reward will outweigh all this.

"Go forward into the mansion then"

I step over the threshold,
into the future.................

Riversleigh Manor House

Riversleigh Manor House

Magical Beginning

Here I am, somewhat mystified as to why and how. I woke this morning with an invitation, clutched in my hand, to a place called Riversleigh Manor. Directions (which I didnt' read) were included in the envelope, folded neatly. I'm quite sure I am awake. I dreamt this, I dreamt of meeting a dear friend I hadn't had contact with for years. I can't remember her name though. My friend lives at Riversleigh Manor and she wanted me to come for a visit. This is all so mystical, and in and out, and up and down. Well, time will show me what I'm to know and learn. After being so tired of living a life of humdrum and responsibilities, I realized this was an opportunity not to be missed. So, I took a leisurely breakfast, freshened myself for a journey and promptly realized how lost I'd be without all my creative tools and supplies. I couldn't pack them all up and haul them with me to my friends house. For goodness sake, I can't even remember her name. What to do? Well, I don't understand or even know a life without creating. I suddenly became so sad and disheartened. How ironic and sad. Upon reading the invitation and awakening from that magical dream, I knew instantly the stay at Riversleigh would be soley for my creative pursuits and food for my soul. But no looms, no sewing aparatus, no fibers, no needles, my newest endeavor of spinning and my wheel, no fibers, and just as badly, books? what about my beloved books I go back to over and over? I was close to tears and muddled in my thinking, a slip of ripped paper dropped from the Riversleigh enevelope, I let it sit there on the floor, as I looked at it, I realized there is writing. Just a piece of trash mistakenly gotten into the invitation I thought. I heard a soft sound, coming from this piece of paper. No, I couldn't be hearing this, my brain was even more muddled. Yes, the sliver of paper is musical, it's sounding such a sweet melody. Dare I touch it? I wanted very much to. I bent over to look closer, it jumps up and around to the palm of my hand. It placed itself in my hand. Though the music has faded to almost inaudible, I can feel the vibrations. The vibrations are pulling at me, a yearning to read what is written. I sit and wait. Nothing happens, except, the vibrations continue and the strong sense to read this melodious piece of paper. I look down at the paper, "All shall be well, come."

And so, I am here. I can't tell you how I am here at Riversleigh. I fell asleep with the melodious note in my hand. When I awoke, I was here, at the edge of what looks like a forest. And off to my right side is a large buidling, there is a sign in front of it. This place is magical, I can feel it, see it. I am at Riversleigh Manor. I have the sliver of paper in my hand, and know yes, all shall be well. In my other hand is a carpet bag, something I've dreamt of many times. This carpet bag has been in so many of my dreams that I had decided to make it for myself. It is warm and vibrant here, all my senses are full of the magic of here. I take my first steps towards Riversleigh.

Homecoming in spring

A home of broken twigs
Made with love
Is better than a palace.

Copyright 2006 Karen Winters

A Rackham illustration

I'm adding this picture for Heather as she mentioned her love for A. Rackham's art work. This illustration is from a book on Aseop Fables. The picture is also a spring touch with all the animals together.

Silky's News

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Silky has come to Riversleigh with news that Gypsies are encamped nearby and that a new land is about to arrive at the top of the Faraway Tree. It is the Land of Standing Stones and rumour hath it that if you look in the stone mirrors a miraculous transformation will take place. Many residents will choose to stay at Riversleigh but some adventurers may not be able to resist the call. Mystery and magic is afoot!

Back to the Gypsy Camp...

Today I took a walk in that glade where the gypsies used to camp - it is empty now, for the tribe has moved to Riversleigh and is setting up camp in an apple grove nearby.

I walked over the ashes of old campfires, and remembered the times before - the dancing, the singing, the feasting and joyful celebrations.

The sound of tambourines, pipes and drums has moved to Riversleigh now - the soft southern sunshine gives away to crisp country breezes and winding lanes. As the caravans creak toward the apple grove, even the horses perk up because they will soon be freed from their traces to roll in the lush grass and pick up the windfall apples.

One wagon moves slower than the others - it is stocked with the old cider known as scrumpy, picked up as the tribe moved through Kent, ready for the celebrations to come. I warn you, travellers, scrumpy is powerful stuff. It will make the tone deaf and lead footed sing and dance.

The gypsies will sleep tonight, under the bright stars shining down on the apple grove. Then Lavengro and his people will rise early in the morning, fetch water from the well and ready the camp to welcome any visitors that happen by. They have stories to tell, and wonders to show you from their travels, so be sure to pop in and see what's new.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trading Has Begun...

Jane has posted some items at the Hermitage Publications Trading Room, and it is well worth a look. This has only been launched a day or so, and if you would like to make use of this new service, where you can trade on the price of return postage, announce your interest. The link is in the introduction post just a couple of posts down, and it will take you directly there. Have fun...Imogen Crest, Hermit.

Ladies among the flowers

This is another image from the autograph book. So lovely and delicate. A treasure for sure!

Love and the Flowers

I got a wonderful treasure in the mail today. It is an old autograph book from 1850 with several beautiful pictures of ladies in flower dresses. There are many hand written verses and lots of blank pages left. I will put in some pictures from the book as they add to our spring theme too.

Promise of spring

Good morning all. Life is good. The sun is shining, the robins are back, and my spirit is ready for spring. I just finished cleaning my apartment here in the manor house, finished a raspberry tea on the deck, and am now ready to head over to the trading room with a basket of treasures to trade.
Promis of spring Posted by Picasa

Psst! Get In First

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Before Kim has a chance to get the best stuff in the attic (smiling broadly at you Kim) get yourself up and see what treasure you can find. You can post an image, a poem, a 1001 Artefact yarn or do whatever you fancy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A room of one's own...

I remember the first time I got my own room. It was barely more than a cupboard with a bed at the end, but it was wonderful. For the first time I knew what it was to close a door, to be private and alone, to craft, dream and read.

I had always loved solitude and before then the only way to find it was in nature - I would find a tree with low branches or a suitable shrub and build myself a little bower, like the birds.

Since then I have had many rooms. When I lived in Manchester my room looked out over the factory wastes, and I papered the walls with pop stars. It was my bedroom and my writing den and my studio - so much larger than the first room I called my own, it was as if I had a whole house to myself.

My room at Riversleigh reminds me of that, although the view is much better - through the tall tree branches I can see the distant hills, and not a trace of factory smoke. My bed is surrounded with books, because it is a day bed where I can lie amongst piles of cushions and read. My writing desk is under the window where I can refresh myself with the view when I am tired. And my art bench gets the best of the light - it's a bit messy, covered with tubes and bottles of paint, rubber stamps and inks, and boxes holding paper and ephemera. When I get back here there is always something left half finished that I can just pick up and start again.

I love lots of light and fresh air. When I am at home every door and window is open, and the garden is visible wherever I am. So my ideal room combines both - the inside reaches out and the outside comes in. That's what comes of growing up a barefoot urchin with all of Ireland to explore.

There are two things my room must have - books and music. The books are mostly old - books I loved in childhood, such as the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories and Enid Blyton. I just finished re-reading CS Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy and as always his magnificent prose has set my head buzzing. Then there is music - music is the breath of life to me. I have a small radio and cassette player which still works fine so I haven't upgraded it. The only thing I really miss is radio as it used to be, with serials, variety shows and comedies like Round the Horne. But I do have some of these on tape and though it's not quite the same, it will do.

A room of one's own, where you can create your own world - how necessary that is, if we are to survive in today's world. We need a place to shut it out, to silence its demands, and get over its shocks, a place where there is still CS Lewis on the bookshelf and the simple tools of creativity that don't need a wall plug to operate.

My room at Riversleigh and my room in the real world (which is the real world, I wonder?) are havens where time, if I so wish it, can stand still and catch its breath.

A Lonely and Secluded Place

Heather asked for us to think about Solitude and what it means to us. Well, I'm not sure what it means to me but I can tell you what it's done to me.

And I like it.

This is from my nightmare journal. Rencently I had this same dream over and over for little over a week. I’m not sure what it means, and as you’ll see I’m not anxious to find out.


A Lonely and Secluded Place

Yesterday I saw my friend Mr Undercroft pass me on the wooden staircase that leads down into my warehouse. He was dressed in his best old fashion funeral clothes and he was wearing one of those tall black hats and his hands were covered with skintight black gloves. He nodded at me and I wondered why he was here, why wasn't he in the warehouse? Or up on the top floor? Why was he here on the stairs?

The I realized he was leaving.

" Where are you going Mr Undercroft?" I asked.

He stopped and tipped his hat, " Why Anita, " he sounded pleased to see me " what are you doing here? "

" I work here Mr Undercroft."

" Fancy that " he said, " I'm on my way to work too."

" Where is that Mr Undercroft? Riversleigh Or Duwamish Bay? Maybe Faraway?"

I named the ficticious places Mr Undercroft occupies.

Mr Undercroft smiled and I felt my chest tighten up as he said, " Good Heavens no Anita, I'm going to work here in Seattle today."

" I don't think that's a good idea. "

" And why is that? " he asked and I could feel more then hear how defensive he sounded.

" Seattle is real Mr Undercroft, you don't belong there. Please Mr Undercroft please stay away from Seattle. "

And the man who represents Death to me, who appears in all of my stories in one form or another whether I want him to or not reached out and took my wrist and said, " Oh but I am real, you know that. "

I tried one more time, " Please stay away from Seattle Mr Undercroft you don't belong there. "

" I can't do that, I won't do that. I'm sorry. Now I have to get to work. You know that Anita. And you know you can't stop me. "

And now I'm waiting down here in this lonely and secluded place for Mr Undercroft to return, and I'm so afraid of what I'll dream when he does.

Building A Room

'In the first place, to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof room, was out of the question' ... ~Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own 1929

Many changes have been occurring in my life, lately, mostly for the better, after some hard inner struggles. I am now able to have a room for creation. A place to call my own. I am just beginning to invision the look of this place, some are needs and some are wants. And so, I am off to make a room ...


New Job

I started a new job today,
and after five hours had completed
everything they had planned --
guess I work a bit fater than the
'other guy', and don't havea cell phone, and ...

anyway, I had time to write this,


“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp,”
are fine words to inspire and caress
the shift of dreams to action and back;
a worthy dance of living beyond.

Yet we must also heed the caution,
“That man can only learn, in truth,
that for which life has prepared him.”
How then do we bridge this wisdom gap?

Are only those with vast experience
to be allowed to engender dreams,
or are dreams a way of preparing,
and unconsciously birthing action?

We quickly transfer facts to knowledge
by way of trust – believing the source
as witness for self-experience
in all concepts from soup to nuts;

and I could write a book (and did),
on the sure folly of believing
those whose actions belay their words,
but this is beating a busted drum.

So, I would suggest, and not in jest,
that dreaming can be just as sure,
and possibly more based on truth,
that what the actor said or thought.

Dreams do not come from naught, you know;
but from fain memories incomplete,
and whispers of instinct ancient draw
on Currents and Tribe and Covenant.

Why do we not then value these more,
coming from self and eternity,
that opinioned guesses and nightmares
of others with a higher pretension?

A quest based on groundless believing
is as feckless as wind strewn sand;
while a dream might be anchored sure
on the cold anvil of creation.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

New Idea - Hermitage Publications Trading Room

Pre-Loved Treasures Trading Room
For details see:

- click on the above link to go there.

Most of you are already members of this blog,
but if you would like an invitation, let me or Heather know,
Imogen Crest - Hermit

The Wanderer

I am homesick, where is home?
Do roving people ever know
places where roots tap down?
I am homesick but where is home?
This house has furniture we’ve brought
from town to town
from other lives to this comfortable place
behind protective walls

I asked you last night
what would you do if anything you wanted
could be done. You said you’d travel
and see all the back roads
the hidden spots—I’d grant your wish
if I could:
We would be just young enough again
and brave enough to walk strange streets
in Samarkand, Calcutta,
or the valley where the Inca temples stand

I want to see the desert
and long to be
strong, to walk the hills
across the swinging bridges,
to stay a while in a kibbutz
or meditate beside a hut somewhere
north of Sappo. You want to see the Great Wall
and I have read of soldier statues
that guarded the Silk Road—I’ve a friend
in Kyoto, have always wanted to walk
across Iceland in summer as the poets did

What would it be like to go back
to Rupert, north to Kittimat
or Ketchican? There are a dozen islands
where I’ve been and want to go again
and a hundred others yet not seen

I want to hear
voices of women gathering
weaving together reeds
and talk
I want to touch the brown hands that made
this pottery jug and to learn to make a basket
to carry
it home

I know there are places not so very far
where neither television or radio
or even telephones can reach—all these
to be learned
but we
grown old
for places
we can go
with cane
and pills
and carefully packed bags

Gift of Solitude

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A 'view' of Owl Island
Actually taken near the Antarctic
by unknown photographer

We all need time alone. Even those of us who are social butterflies need some time to ourselves. Solitude is necessary for meditation and quiet reflection. We also may choose to isolate ourselves when we are busy and need to meet a deadline. We may cherish time alone when we want to give ourselves over to art or music, lose ourselves in a good book, or delve into a personal project. Having time to ourselves allows us to focus completely on our yoga practice or get into the zone while running or strength training. Sometimes we need to be alone to simply do nothing but enjoy the sound of silence. Our alone time revitalizes and replenishes us, grounding us in our own company.

Yet, too much isolation, especially when our intention is to hide, withdraw, or not deal with the realities of our lives is not physically, mentally, or spiritually healthy. It is during moments like these when being in isolation takes us away from our lives, rather than enhancing it. If anything, too much isolation can create a buffer whereby we don't have to deal with our problems. Sometimes, pushing ourselves to deal with our issues and be in our lives, rather than isolate, is one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves.

Also, just as it is important for us to have our "alone" time, we need to remember that as human beings, we are by nature social creatures that thrive on human contact. Our lives cannot occur in a vacuum, and we cannot fully live in this world without interacting with others. Consider using isolation as time spent for rest, reinvigoration, and personal growth. Isolation can then not only empower you, but it can allow you to return to your work and your relationships restored and ready for life. from Daily OM

Two of my favourite books are Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton and Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg. I have been enjoying the 'solitude' of Owl Island where I have been sketching and spending quality solitary time.

This week consider escaping from the madness of society, take some 'alone time' and share your thoughts and feelings here, at Riversleigh, lwithin the sanctuary of the Lemurian Hermitage or in the Salon du Soul.

Triduum - 3

Note: I am posting these early so that you can share them with friends as you wish. I did this on another site lart year, and people complained they had no time to think and share. The story offered today has been published in five lanquages to my knowledge. It is also in my book "In Retreat."

Despite the lateness of my final rest I was up before sunrise -- off to the fountain to catch the first reflected rays of God-shine and bath my face in the tinkling waters. What! Rafael is there before me, having drained and cleaned the fountain, now mostly refilled. "After the basin ceremony," he whispered in his delightful accent; "you never know who might climb into this pool!" The he rushed of to place fresh flowers in many pots and I had time for another whistling stroll before first prayers.

After two more presentations and pleasant meals with a mixture of new acquaintances, I had time for a brief nap and meditation -- I thought. Jumbled thoughts about the washing and the fountain caused me to write once again.

The Basin

My name is Andropos. I am tutor to the children of a certain innkeeper that I shall not betray, nor is the name I share one by which you can find me. I am also my Master's friend and confidant and would not betray any trust, even if not asked. In this case I was warned, but I wonder to what avail -- considering what happened. Anyway, I would tell you a marvelous little story.

The group came to the great room in bunches of twos and threes, not silently or exactly in stealth, but obviously wary of attracting attention. Only I noticed from the shadows. They sat about on cushions around a number of low tables and chatted amiably in semi-whispered tones. Then the leader came, though he was not announced or escorted in any special way. He embraced the twelve friends gathered there and bade them sit. Many were obviously weary and had already removed their sandals.

And amazing spectacle unfolded there!

Though I could not follow the words, they commanded close attention and respect from those present. The man stripped himself save a large towel. He took up a basin and pitcher of water from the corner and began to wash the very feet of his friends. Even I, in times worse than this, have never lowered myself thus. Nor would I be comfortable in having a teacher or Rabbi wash my feet, though I have many things in my life I wish could be washed away. The bathing and massaging took some time as it was accompanied by gentle words and stories. There was great joy there, but also a sadness I could not grasp.

As I had been instructed, I took in platters of bread, wine, fruit and dried fish -- hardly a feast for this noble group. A simple, everyday repast. I took away the basin and cloth. I would have discarded that little remaining water, but something stayed my hand. It sat instead by my bed throughout the night.
In the morning, while the crowds were away at big doings at the palace, I went out to the edge of the fields near the great olive trees and gathered up some soil. I do not know what had grown there before but all of this humus contained mixed seeds of grain and wild flowers. Spring always provided a few surprises here! I packed the soil into the basin and placed it in a protected spot with some morning sun, cushioned by the bundled towel.

Eventually there grew up a central fern of I type I have not known. Its fronds were sturdy enough to protect the buds beneath from blistering noonday rays and the occasional torrent of rain. Its spread was gentle enough to gather in the morning mist and dew even on the most parched of days to provide soft moisture to its companion flowers. There grew up slowly a variety of bloomed crowns, each of unique form and color. Eleven there were, and they brightened my day, withered away, and were born again each year. They may be there still.

There was a twelfth bloom also, different from the rest. Pale yellow it was -- a single waving, smiling blossom with a center never quite revealed. It stood close by the center stalk, slightly away from the other communal bunch.

It never, ever died away!

A tea moment

As finches draw near
The teahouse hides shyly
Behind cherry trees

© 2006 Karen Winters

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I am finally settled back in my lovely attic room at Riversleigh Manor and I have a new picture to hang on the wall. This lovely river dragon was created in clay by my daughter Kathlyn and now it guards the door of our new home. I thought other foodies would like to meet him, and see what Kathy gets up to.

Finally! I got my manhole cover done and mounted it on a card. The base is a CD painted with two tones of pearlised paint, embellished with small pieces of frosted tile and some groovy paper clips. I added the tassel just because. The centre image is one Carol sent (I'm sure it was Carol, or was it Megan - I've mislaid the envelope). It's quite incredible the way the image seems to move and add depth.
This is a manhole I want to open. It can be set aside where it will givce light in the darkness while I explore below. What's down there?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Self Portraits




A collection

The Tea Leaves Speak

An Invitation

It's time to join the Mad Hatter and Alice along with their friends the White Rabbit and the Queen of Heart for tea. Write a story, whip up some lyrics, include lashings of dialogue, dance to drums or quite literally do whatever takes your fancy….

What is there to see in tea leaves?

Individuals form a unique pattern born of their energy. When energy flows freely through the body and mind, it imparts to the tea leaves a reflection of its light.

When the flow of energy is constricted, or banned from natural channels, the leaves are dense and severe.

I scry the leaves and speak their message; the translations of individuals’ own self, which they are unable to decipher unassisted. Just as physical insults alter the functioning of the organ systems, so do life experiences alter the unique quality of personal energy as it surrounds, enters, circulates, and emerges from each of us. Many avenues have been devised to read the river of energy as it carries the life current of self.

The tea leaves speak this to me.

He wandered casually in the door feigning indifference as he moved among the canisters of tea. I was seated at the window table surrounded by the usual brood of tittering matrons. The power of his energy virtually quivered the tea leaves in the bottom of my cup.

I watched in fascination as they spun through all the days of his existence then rested at this very moment. Oblivious to the surrounding banter, and momentarily transfixed by the revelation before me, I slowly raised my gaze to lock with his. Neither of us wavered as I pointed to the sign mounted prominently behind the counter.

Finally, his gaze shifted in this direction. The room drew silent. Then with ears flattened, he hopped silently out the door. I rose to retrieve the envelope from the floor.

by Beetle Bug

Triduum - 2

The foot-washing ceremony that evening was very special but did not prompt any immediate call to write or expand on the experience. That was to come later. More impactful was the presentation that night dealing with the aspect of night and day viewed differently now and during the time of Christ when the day was seen as starting in the evening, not with sunrise. I walked about a bit beneath the redwoods and firs, winding through the Stations where the bronze tablets were blank faces in their recessed niches. I whistled, of course, as is my want, and was quite alone. I returned to my room at midnight and armed with a pamphlet from the presentation, wrote this to end Day One.


We come together with the fading light at our backs, and notice not if it carries hint of storm or playful clouds upon which the full moon can dance. Our thoughts turn inward, as it should be as Passover approaches, and with it, a claim on life and spirit. The prophet spoke, “We hope for life to walk by, but there is only darkness, and we grope about like blind people. We stumble at noon, as if it were night, as if we were in the dark world of the dead.” Ah, were it but so! Why do we fear this? Why are we taught the night is to be feared, when it is in the shadows we can find peace? Why do we revel in a burst of morning light that can blind our eyes to the realities of strife and pain and loneliness all around? Why do we shun the darkness that heralds a new day, for in our heritage it is birth, not death that is aroused in the dark? This I now know, by both glint of moonlight on fountain waters and day borne tears, it is our confusion over life and death that is the cause of confusion.
It is humanity’s claim on control that causes us to tread lightly in the approaching dark and drop our voices to whispers. It is divinity’s freedom, that we call mystery, that makes us dance in first morning rays; but it is only because our vain fears are easily masked in market chatter and children’s cries. By right we must seek balance between the gift of humanity and curse of divine claim, but this is not served by worldly delusions of sighted view. Let us embrace the shadows in which we can grow close in community or drift to solitary contemplation, both a form of prayer. Remind me to disdain the pleasures of the day, those that detract from true fellowship and sharing love. Which is death and which is life? Does the spinning Janus coin have sides light and dark, or is it only an illusion forced by our will’s attempt to defy a call to birth and death the same?
I have pondered on the artful words of poets and philosophers, and prophets and kings, and clerics and saints. In the main it is said that salvation will be achieved through death and loss of life as we go to another place. In that place light and dark are equated with good and evil, an extension perhaps of our own delusion. Yet the prophet also says, “I will lead my blind people by roads they have not traveled. I will turn their darkness into light.” We are then in darkness now and it is to be embraced, not feared. If death has spiritual meaning then humanity is death and divinity is life. It is right that we embrace darkness on our human side and light for our spirit. It is the proud song that can say in the day, “I am the Son of God” that proves our divine gift of humanity. It is the voice that calls, “Come, I am the son of man,” and echoes in the night that proves our divine gift.
Our day as simple man must start joyfully in the darkness and proceed to meet the challenge of the day. In a churning cycle of embraced birth and death it matters not which comes first, no more than introspection on the order of humanity and spirit. Say instead, “I am one, such as we do call our Lord, and that We together do call forth I.” I lay down my head on this first day of Triduum and pray, “Perchance to dream -- therein to refresh and prepare, and sustain through tomorrow’s bright glare. Next twilight is so far, yet so near -- a life and death away.”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Seed

Manasi here, writing from the Folly in the Garden.

I was puttering around in the old Nabob’s hidden summer room, downstairs in the Folly, when I remembered that I ought to wash the dust from my face and hands, and go over to the greenhouse to choose some seeds. Just then, what did I come across down there, but an old seed packet! It was so fortuitous that it seemed almost spooky. But could the seeds it contained possibly germinate, after so many years? I carried the packet upstairs, into the light, to examine it.

The packet – its paper browned and faded, thin and very fragile – had been supplied by Bannerji & Nephew, Park Street, Calcutta. I opened it as gently as I could, and found that it contained a single banyan seed.

I was intrigued, but at the same time I wondered: what had the Nabob been thinking? Banyans need the tropics; they can never grow in a cold place. I thought that perhaps the Nabob himself had felt something like the banyan – after a lifetime in the Indies he had returned to a cold home which had become foreign to him. In the end, he had not taken the risk; he had left the banyan seed sealed, dormant in its paper wrapping.

Imagining all these things, I resolved that I would take the challenge. I will plant the banyan seed in a pot, and keep it indoors in a pool of sunlight. When the time comes for me to leave Riversleigh, I will carry the pot with me, and plant it where it can spread and grow.

A banyan grows slowly into a mighty tree, which expands to cover as much space as you allow it. It shelters many creatures in its branches. I hope that it will inspire me to expand in imagination and art; and shelter me in its cool shade.

Recently, in my other home, in Chennai, I went to visit a banyan tree. This is what I wrote about it:
… I went to draw the banyan tree. A big, minimally-shaped chunk of granite had been erected in front of it. As I stood sketching, a yellow-green chameleon ran down the trunk and squatted on the stone's highest point, staring at me. Two crows perched silently in the branches above it. The tree, the lives that sheltered in it, and the stone formed a small perfection.

Something Fishy At RIversleigh

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I am very interested to know what le Enchanteur is up to. Not only has she dyed her hair with purple streaks but she is scrubbing sweet potatos to serve with the casserole that is on the menu tonight. It is not like Sibyl to roll up her sleeves and make herself this useful. I am wary because I think she is trying to ingratiate herself with Ebony Wilder to curry some favour so to speak. Will keep you posted.

Shared Spaces

~Big Momma~

I picked up some photos today and the package contained ...
The short story can be viewed at my blog if you care to look.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

To Be Four Again:

To be this tiny dancer again, unselfconscious, moving with liquid awkwardness from one newly attempted movement to another. Yet the sensation was more one of flying than dancing. It was not a series of movement, it was one heavenly period of movement untethered by the planet's intent to force gravity on me. No one can teach you to feel this, some do, some don't. I'd probably not have thought of the sensation being one of flight had I not (one a hundred dollars worth of dare) thrown myself out of an airplane over na old airfield in southern Ontario. I was seventeen, an age when rational thought only gets in the way of a good time.

illustration by aletta mes, 2006

I am still not much of a dancer, but I can still fly here and there. At the apex of every leap stands liberation, a suspension of the laws of gravity and the laws of man, and you don't have to remember to pull the ripcord. At the peak of every turn a mild hallucination of impressionist delights. How do I learn to live without wings?

Returning to Riversleigh…

I turn the doorknob slowly, realizing I have been gone from my Riversleigh room for longer than I had anticipated. I had wandered off to the Faraway Tree and gotten lost in a VOID Land (Voyage of Inner Discovery Land) and had lost track of the time. Finally I wander back in, hungry again for the warmth of my room and company of my new creative friends.

I make myself some tea in my EverHotPot (patent pending) and sit by my window, looking out onto the lands. So green from all the rain lately! I notice a lovely flower garden off to the right, wondering who planted it – such a lush grouping of cottage favorites. Tall delphiniums, hollyhocks, and even some sunflowers! Interspersed among the tall blooms are clumps of lovely forget-me-nots, poppies, and carnations. I open my window in hopes that the scent of the flowers will waft into my room.

My thoughts wandered as my hands curved around the cup of steaming tea. My gypsy friend Zaryana had apparently wandered off again as I had not seen her for some time. I hope I will run into her again as I had not had much chance to peruse her journals before she left. I look around my room and notice for the first time a thin layer of dust on the surfaces. Oh my! Had I been gone that long?

I open a closet and find my DustBeGone Feather Duster (patent pending) and whish it around the room. Looking around the room I make a note of what still has to be done. My art supplies are in a jumble on a large table so I will need to spend some time putting them away. My writing desk is piled high with papers and plans for my upcoming summer trip so I will have to file them and clear off the desk.

With the room cleaner, I will have more energy to work and decide to get back to what I came to Riversleigh for in the first place… a chance to be creative and let my words and art flow freely without restraints.

new drawings

It seems I have taken up drawing again I use to draw all of the time when I was a kid but havn't done it for years I am very rusty but having fun with it here are a couple of picts I did yesterday for a swap im in called zetti tarrot mine are of the eight of cups the first one is my favorite and the one im using for the swap

Come Shuck Peas With Me!

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You thought you knew Heather? No! You could never really know Heather. Just when you think you have her pegged she changes again. Believe me! You know only what she has been prepared to reveal, little by little, as she removes the veils that hide her identities.

Just call me Ebony when you come into my kitchen. Take a seat and make yourself at home. There is plenty of coffee in the pot.

I am another alter ego of Heather's, the part that attends the hearth and does the cooking, housekeeping, gardening. Last night the Hermit, Imogen Crest and I had dinner together after a lazy late afternoon walk together. Well, actually, we walked a few steps behind Monika and Heather, who were engrossed in conversations about Cafe Press, their art, unchaining themselves and goodness knows what else. I cooked dinner while they talked on. It was a pretty basic meal but no-one complained.

As we all wandered along the Merri Creek we spied a solitary Cape Barren Goose on the bank and stood mesmerized. The cyclists, who have been watching way too much of the Commonwealth Games whizzed by, all but bowling us over but we just stood, in the late afternoon sun and took in the wonder and wondered what a Cape Barren Goose could be doing in this part of the world. Come out for the games no doubt and decided to find a quieter, more beautiful part of Melbourne.

Come and help me shuck some peas. We are having a hearty beef casserole for dinner tonight, with good old fashioned mash potatos and plenty of fresh peas, picked from the garden. While we shuck some peas perhaps you could tell me about yourself and how you came to be here at Riversleigh and what your room is like.

I am a very good listener. If you drink the fresh water from the tanks here you will be drinking from the same water that runs down the stream of Mnemosyne, purported to restore memory. If a memory comes drifting back do share it with you and I, in turn will share some memories of my own.

A summer memory

There are lonely mountain streams
that twist and tumble in my memory –
swirling eddies of leaf shadow Fall,
mist-angry torrents of bright Spring,
and giant granite boulder gifted plunging pools
in the Summer of my life.

A sun-brown boy of lanky fishing hope
dangled a string of twisted grass,
with hook of thorn and crafted dreams
from a shaved wand of willow silence –
and I waited then patiently
back when, so ever long ago.

Another watched me from a fond distance
not measured in space and time,
or so I came to sense in wonder
as he hunkered down beside me –
sharing not word or question
save the laugher in crinkled eyes.

He fashioned with a flick of blade
a different kind of angler hook,
and demonstrated how a flower pod
could serve as bait and float alike;
and left me there in whimsy
and a debt I must repay.

Each day I look for winsome children
grown old by empty wishing wells,
with tools and skills not adequate
for catching dreams of love and all –
and show them simple things
of joy and song and faith.

Someday I’ll meet that man again,
perhaps by Winter’s frosty lake
where snow heavy branches crack defiance
to the bleakness of tomorrow’s sigh,
save for barefoot prancing steps
now drifting steady side by side.

A Name and A Room

Since there may be others at the Manor with my name, I thought I would take a new one. My name here shall be Manasi. It is pronounced MAHN-see, and it means ‘of the mind’ or ‘thought-full’.

As to my room, I’ve arrived quite late, so I wondered where I could settle. I was exploring the grounds when I came across a folly in the garden, and saw that it was unoccupied. I knew that I must have it! It looks like a ruined castle turret in miniature, but it is topped with the most incongruous Mughal-style dome, and a flag made of gold – a folly indeed. Inside is a neat but fairly austere room, with a prie-dieu in the corner, under a simple crucifix. I think that after the Abbey purchased the property, this place must have been used as a retreat.

The folly is on the edge of the herb garden. There are rectangular beds, and smaller plants have been planted on the pathway, so that when you walk down it, fragrance rises from leaves crushed under your feet. The beehive in the corner is made of coiled ropes of straw, but someone has molded them into a shape that echoes the pointed dome of the folly.

But friends, I must tell you the most astonishing thing – when I was settling into this quiet, almost bare room, I shifted the prie-dieu and found that underneath it there was a trapdoor in the floor! I lifted it with some trepidation, and took the small flashlight from my purse. I walked down a wooden staircase and found another room beneath it, of exactly the same size and dimension as the one above it. But it was the exact opposite of the austerity of the main room – it was crumbling and filled with dust, but crammed with silken draperies, round cushions, a hookah, small carved tables on which blackened silver boxes rested. I couldn’t see much in the light of my flashlight, but it looked like an Orientalist fantasy.

My head was buzzing with questions. I left the darkness and dust and came back upstairs to think about the meaning of the hidden room. Then it all fell into place: Lord and Lady Someone or Other must have had a younger son, and shipped him off to the Indies to make his fortune. He would have become a wealthy Nabob, and retired to the Manor at the end of his life. But his older brother, the new Lord Someone, would have been strait-laced, and wanted no part of his suspect Eastern ways (though the money would have come in handy to maintain the estate). The Nabob must have moved into the folly which his father had built. He would have put up the Mughal dome as a gesture of defiance to his brother's world, and built the underground room, like the old Mughal summer rooms, which protected them from the scorching summer heat of Hindoostan.

When the Nabob died, the family would have sealed the entrance to the lower room – after all, who knows what shocking things he did there? He might even have put some opium in that hookah, and persuaded some pink-cheeked village girl to wrap herself in a shimmering silk sari...

When the Abbey purchased the property (even the Nabob’s wealth couldn’t prevent the Someones from being forced to sell it) the nuns would have placed the prie-dieu and the crucifix squarely above that museum of heathenism, and ensured that it was forgotten.

I felt that if I so much as sneezed down there, the whole place would have fallen into a heap of dust. I think I’ll leave it as it is. But I plan to bring some of the Nabob’s possessions – the hookah, say, and a few other things – upstairs, so that my austere room will become something a little raffish, a little Other, like the old Nabob himself. When you’re strolling in the garden, do drop in. I’ll make something spicy to go with tea.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Settling In

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After an uneventful journey we have arrived at Riversleigh and are each finding special places for ourselves. Calvin has come with me and is already in postition.

Share and tell us all about your room with a view at Riversleigh. Use all your senses to describe the environment that surrounds you.

All Going To Riversleigh

When the animals all saw the bags they knew that I was seriously heading off for another of my cyber adventures and they leapt in the car and positioned themselves. "If your going to Riversleigh for the rest of the year we are coming too" I heard my ever faithful Dougie say. When we spent six months in Europe poor Dougie (top right) fretted and never kept good health the whole time I was gone. I don't leave him much these days and he is usually lying here, by the computer, alongside me as I sketch, or sprawled out with me when I lie down.

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Then Calvin the cat, who had been occupied drinking from the fish bowl in the backyard sprang in and sat down with the Cavaliers. He does not like Max, second from the top, and Monty and he have always maintained a civil distance, so he snuggled next to his old friend Dougie and announced that he would be coming too.

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As if the car wasn't full enough! le Enchanteur, Ebony Wilder the housekeeper and Baba Yaga were all pushing and shoving to get in the car too.

"A bit of order" I told them all in my best school teacher voice "or else you can all stay here in Melbourne".

They looked at one another, looked at me, saw the determined glint in my eye and promised that they would each make themselves useful. Right! As if!

Monty, or monster as we call him, will visit everyone at Riversleigh. I suspect he was a character of dubious credentials in a previous life. He is very much his own dog, will take no nonsense and is currently in to demand feeding. He is ten and the elder statesman, boss dog. No one messes with Monty - especially Calvin, who would torment anything else that moved. Calvin is a bit of killer and so we will have to keep him indoors at night or all the little furry life will be lying in a cold state near Ebony when Calvin greets her in the kitchen. He is very giving to those who give to him and likes to leave trophies about. The mice have more to worry about with Calvin on board than they do from any owls that might be in residence.

So! We are on our way. There are so many new people at Riversleigh that I have employed extra staff and le Enchanteur (affectionately known as Sibyl) is all enthused and is planning lots of things for people to do. Now that is a worry. Old timers who went off into the cave will caution you that this is not necessarily a good thing.

Whatever! The place is going to quite literally be buzzing and we will need a very good lie down by the end of each day.

If it all sounds a bit exhausting and you cannot maintain a weekly post at Riversleigh don't give up or head off. Just make sure you are listed on the Soul Food Cafe Google Group list and participate, when you can, on the other bloggers. Just drop me a line to let me know if weekly is too much so that I can do a proper head count and offer any final places to people who tell me that they would pack their bags and come at a moments notice. I am closing the doors soon and then we will all be trapped here together. (is that a sinister cackle coming from Baba?)