I am sitting here at the computer, and have the feeling that my body has been taken over by Aliens. Did they arrive with the Christmas presents? Where they, or it, wrapped in the pain that knocked me out about 10 days ago?
According "Dictionary.com" an alien is:
a resident born in, or belonging to another country,
who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization
A citizen from the world of pain? The world of M.E.?
I am in a daze, sleep between 12 and 14 hours at night, and then still require a rest in the afternoon. My legs are worryingly weak. The Alien in my head makes conversations difficult. I can not find the words to describe a thing or an action. Writing seems a little easier although the job is laboursome. (& spellcheck essential!)
So why write?
Because in this Zombie/Alien state, my creative brain is making a comeback. It wants attention, and comes up with ideas for the year ahead.
Over the past few days a handmade artist book has been formulation in my mind, and I have played around with its possibilities. Exciting! Watch this space.
Yet again, I see creativity as a way forward. The first benefit is selfishly mine. I can experience my world through words and images. Words I am not always able to speak, but do flow out of my fountain pen, or through my fingers on the keyboard. My camera has me observing the birds and trace the life of plants, flowers, and insects. Creativity is the one gift from the world of 'Aliens' which I truly respect and have immense gratitude for.
It is also a way in which I can communicate my thoughts, fears, loves, and desires with others, and if these creative explorations have a positive effect on others, I am honoured.
Through the Alien's visit I also became aware again that I am not able to take part in the world like a citizen of the world we know. I enjoyed a few 'normal' outings over the past few months and am still paying for the 'privilege'.
This realization is painful. The fear of having to live my life forever in this way makes me sad. It can be so lonesome at times. Yet! Most of the time I value my space, the silence in my house, the time I can devote to my creativity. As long as I can construct a healthy balance between the much needed social contacts and the life I can live. The life I can live well. The restrictions are many, but managed well, I do experience my life as a good life.
Creativity being the main key to my well being, these are my wishes for the year ahead:
I hope to finish writing my novella: "The Shadows of an Invisible Octopus", work with my artist friend Spark on the Family Tree project, and unearth more about my ancestors, especially my Great Grand Mother Maria. I believe that in this lies a key to my writing.
I aspire to republish Hatched and create limited editions handmade artist books, and to get my hands dirty with clay again.
A lot? Maybe, but I have 365 days and more to do it. No rush!
All this does means though that I doubt I will devote as much time and energy on networking on Facebook. I'll pop by now and then to see how my Facebook Friends are all doing. (*)
The Alien's visit had me re-evaluate how I spend my time and energy. Computer time- I have to use more selfishly- creatively; jobs in the house (for which I am going to apply for more support again) and use my energy the way I know is best as long as the Aliens are in the vicinity to make it's present known.
Maybe this is all a way of sticking my head in the sand, live a life in a dream state, not in the real world, but then again, maybe deep down I know to which "country" I belong and can aspire to live there within my best abilities.
If you like to keep track of my creative explorations, please sign up by clicking on the button "follow". And if you have a blog or website of your own, please let me know!
Best wishes to all my readers for the year ahead.
Health and Contentment and hopefully a lot of creativity!
Cirrus woke up all cosy from sleeping with Robert Cat in his box under the bed. Cirrus stretched out and looked up towards the window sill, to talk to Zebra.
“We had better practice a bit of flying today.” Grinning from ear to ear he continued, “I am SURE Cloud Nine will be above Ballynelligan soon! Then I can go home, and tell EVERYBODY about my adventures!”
“Can I really fly?” Zebra said a little confused. “I thought I’d been dreaming.”
“Don’t you remember? We were flying around the tree last night. It was AWESOME!”
Cirrus suggested practicing by visiting his friends, and recited the words the Fairies had taught him. They flew out the open window, through the garden, over the high stone wall, towards Ballynelligan cottage.
Sarah Robin nearly fell off her perch when she saw Cirrus and Zebra flying by.
“My goodness, look at you!”Having recovered her composure, she added, “so when are you going home?”
“Well, we need more practice today, so I’d say tomorrow.” Zebra nodded in agreement. “And the Fairies kept talking about Christmas and a Santa Man, who is visiting tonight. I’d really should stay around for
“Well Cirrus, I know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-gabout Christmas!” Sarah boasted.
“Oh, sure, I remember now. Stephen Wren told me.”
Not listening to Cirrus, Sarah continued, “you know, Christmas was once about the birth of Jesus, but now humans only talk about presents and Santa Claus! AND”, she added, pointing to her red breast, “they have also forgotten that a robin took a thorn from Jesus’s crown. It was his blood that coloured our breast red!” Taking in a deep breath, she went on, “oh yes, before I forget, about 150 years ago, humans started to send Christmas cards to each other. Of course OUR picture is on most of those!”
“You are famous aren’t you?”
“You are right, I am! Come to think of it, Christmas is all about robins and the colour red! Even Santa wears a red suit!”
“So, who is this Santa Man?” Cirrus asked.
“I’ll tell you now. Santa Claus, and Mrs. Claus, live in the far north, in a land where there is always snow. There, with the help of lots of Elves, he makes toys for children all over the world.” She gave a deep sigh, “and then on Christmas Eve, which is tonight, he comes down in his sleigh pulled by nine reindeer. It is truly amazing to see the sleigh land on the roof, and to see Santa climb out and disappear down the chimney.” Shaking her head, she added, “he is a big man you know...”
Cirrus, thinking hard, asked, “but how does he come out again? Doesn’t he get stuck? Does his suit get all black?”
“I know it is amazing, but true. I have seen it with my own eyes. Santa goes down the chimney with a sack of toys, eats a biscuit, and drinks the glass of milk that has been left out for him. Then before you know it, he is up and out of the chimney; clean as a whistle, and on his merry way.”
“I certainly stay up for THAT tonight!” said Cirrus.
Last Saturday I started writing a blog about the TRUE meaning of Christmas and what Christmas means to me, in memories, thoughts and wishes.
I turned into a long-ish piece and suddenly felt too ill to finish it. I went down hill in lots of ways. Pain "knocked me for six" (what a peculiar expression...) Anyway, I had to go to bed- and stay there. I felt cheated out of Christmas. I wanted to decorate my house some bit, I still had letters to write (Kirsten it's coming).
This bloody illness really got me this time.
But I have friends!
In tears of pain and fear, I rang my friend Phyllis. She shared my physical and mental pain, and later prayed for me with her friend Margaret Anne. The following day Phyllis came to visit and has been in touch every day. Thank you my dear friend.
Mariela kept me fed and watered, Jane gave me a loan of her spare bed and warm house on Monday as I had someone putting insulation in my attic. My house has been too cold for too long, at last something was done to remedy the problem. (I bought a stove and insulation and council were going to put it in). Thank you all.
A long chat with Spark helped me to see that I was very low. Looking back on the year we wondered why life had to be so hard at times. I started to feel better by the end of our chat.
Tuesday morning I woke up early. Opening the bedroom blind I was greeted with the most beautiful star in the sky. A huge bright star, which made me think about the image of the "Christmas Star".
I turned on the radio and heard that the eclipse of the moon was happening right now!
I wrapped up like the "man on the moon" and went outside with my camera.
I felt so privileged that I had seen both that star and the eclipse on this winter solstice morning.
Christmas was here and I was going to make it a good one.
Time, painkillers and other 'drugs' were helping me to get out of bed again and to start thinking about Christmas.
I must admit that I wasted lots of energy to try to have the council to place my new stove - before Christmas, so I could be WARM, and with the worry and inconvenience of not having water for two days.
Yesterday friends Marcus and Joan came to visit. Joan for tea and chocolate, Marcus to (temporarily) put the stove in for me. He worked hard, drove around to get flu pipes. Flexi-flu I now know it is called. He managed to put the stove in, without the proper flu-pipe. Excitedly Joan went outside to see if smoke rose from the chimney. It did! But opening the stove's door, the room filled with smoke...
Last night, happy that at least the stove was in it's rightful place, I decided to just put a candle in/on it for now and wait until council-plumber has time to put it in properly... I gave up the fight and wheeled an electric radiator into the room and created my 'Alternative Tree'.
Creativity is a great healer.
It was the turn of my room to be in a mess- I felt better.
Today... still no water.. and lets be honest - I needed a shower/bath... Jane came to the rescue again. After the 'water- visit' I was brought home, clean- and even with a load of clean laundry by her son Dan.
Lucky me! As Dan knew how to temporarily make my stove work.
So, my Christmas story that came to light was a very different story from the one I started to write almost a week ago.
Today, I feel so blessed to have friends, who are there for me when I need them, who sort out issues I cannot fix on my own, and who share their love and wisdom with me.
To top it all, even my water miraculously came back to the house.
Maybe fighting to hard to get things 'sorted' stopped them all from happening.
a little decoration in my study
My friends, here, there, and in cyberspace,
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with friends and loved ones.
If you are alone on the day, I am sure that there will be people who will have you in their hearts. You will be in mine.
Thank you for your friendship and I look forward to spend more time with you
and get to know you better in the year ahead.
And of course, best wishes for Health and Contentment
A few days ago my very special friend Paddy Vaughan passed away. He was 87 years old.
I will miss him dearly.
Passing by his house during the walk from the church to the graveyard, I realized I will never have the pleasure of spending time with this remarkable man in his 'organised cluttered' house.
Paddy was a writer, a teller of stories, a local historian, a reader of poetry, a friend to many, a man with a lovely twinkle in his eyes and the most wonderful eyebrows! A man who loved life and his town of Lismore.
Paddy was born in Lismore opposite the church. Behind the house is the forge belonging to his father- Paddy worked there too and was the last remaining blacksmith in town. His own house was a few doors further. The cemetery another few hundred yards away. His life was fully lived in the one street: Chapel Street.
In 1994, Paddy published his first book: The last Forge in Lismore. A story about his work in the forge- the people he met and a wonderful portrayal of a thriving business town.
For the past few years he has been working on the sequel: stories and memories about Chapel Street, the people who lived there and the changing social structures of modern Ireland. I can only hope that it was near completion and that the book can be/ will be published.
The forge is still in existence- although in need of some tidying up... A museum in the making?
We first met - according to Paddy- at an exhibition I had in the Library in 2004. An exhibition of art, poetry and the launch of the Fit to Fly Documentary. There were a lot of people there, I was still very much in the throws of M.E. and was in love... To my shame, I don't remember meeting Paddy.
While minding Lismore Gallery in the summer of 2008 Paddy came in and we started to talk about the history of the building. I very much enjoyed talking to him and we decided to meet up again. We did. Many, many times.
We talked about books, about writing, about life in the past, and life as it is now.
Paddy told me the history & stories associated with Ballynelligan while I was writing the Cirrus Chronicles- Landing in Ballynelligan.
I am proud to say that Paddy helped me launch this very book in November 2009. He started the night with words in Irish. A true Proud Irishman!
While working on the next story for the Chronicles- we shared a common interest: the life of Ms. Fanny Currey. Fanny Currey was an artist- writer- and owner of a Daffodil nursery in the 1880. My house is build on the land once used for the nursery. Her book was called : Prince Ritto (1887) illustrated by another Lismore artist, ms Helen O'Hara. ( I managed to get a photocopied edition from the National Library in the UK)
Paddy wasn't aware of Fanny Currey's writing... But... he had information that I didn't have! Every time we met this came up for "discussion". I can see Paddy's face: a big big smile and twinkling eyes.
We promised that whomever would be the first to publish our book would mention the other.
I am sad to say that it will be me who has "won" this game.
During the funeral mass his school pal, a priest for the past 60 years, told us about Paddy. Great memories were told, and lots of laughter heard in the (cold) church.
I am honoured to have had Paddy among my friends, and am honoured that I was invited, among many others, to the dinner after the funeral. I had the opportunity to be among his friends and family.
Rest in peace my dear friend.
a sample his very recent writing, given to me by his grand daughter Mary-Ann