Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baggage Central

So, this week has been filled with family catch-up time. This afternoon I & my sister took her kids (3-yr-old twins + 8-month-old girl) to one of those epic fun palaces.

Which, it turned out, had a paint-your-own-pottery section. Well, colour me happy.

It started out just fine. The kids are painting duckies, pretty content. [The background: in Devon Music Service our big credo (cadged from some minister) was that every child has the ability to be uniquely musical; these days I mention 'unique' whenever the kidlets are painting/singing/whatever and worried that they're not as good as the other.] So, the kids are painting their own ducks in their own unique way, very happily, and my sister & I start painting our own things.

And the childhood baggage is delivered without delay.

[Grown adult freezes] "I made a mistake." [Looks up shamefacedly]

[Other grown adult freezes] "I did it wrong." [Looks up guiltily]

Oh good. The very idea that art can be wrong...

And it got worse. Because the kidlets finished up and went off to play, leaving the two of us, looking at the most un-aesthetically pleasing ducks ever.

The Pottery Overseer comes over to see how we're doing. I ask: 'If we were to... ahem... repaint the kids' ducks, would that make us bad people?'

She looks at the ducks (which started off as baby blue or pink, but were soon slashed with black and grey).

I voice my (secondary) concern that if an art therapist ever saw them, the conclusion would be they were painted by sociopaths.

The Overseer cocks her head, considers this. 'I'd say more multiple personality syndrome.' She reaches a decision. 'I can get these ducks back to blank in five minutes.'

And so while the kids played, the unique slashed-through ducks were transformed into sunshiney happy ducklings, just like all the others. Sigh.

[And in other news, I have tickets for the Munster-Leinster rugby match on Saturday in Croker. And right now, my three-year-old nephew is out the back proclaiming "I'm Ronan O'Gara!!!" Roll on Saturday :-)]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Resources on sources

Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost...

It was bound to lead back here:

A project of the University of Texas, Dante's Worlds is "an integrated multimedia journey--combining artistic images, textual commentary, and audio recordings--through the three realms of the afterlife (Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise) presented in Dante's Divine Comedy."

It's especially strong on visuals, so you can see the art inspired by the text through the centuries, from Botticelli to Blake to Doré.

But for reading online, the Princeton Dante Project is beautifully clear, and each line has annotations offering commentary, audio, images - anything you might need to enhance understanding. (I've said it before, if Ulysses had such a well-supported site, we'd all have read it).

Great to know that such resources are out there, at our disposal, waiting to teach and inspire.

For some reason, I'm reminded of that killer line of Lucifer's: "The mind is its own place, and in itself /Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Aprille to Auguste

[Hmmm... this is turning into a 'folk who drew upon Dante' week...]

Anyhoo, A Season in Hell is an interesting short documentary examining the two different versions of Rodin's Gates of Hell. The more familiar, super-expressive version (below) was completed in 1889. It stands 6m x 4m, is comprised of 8 tonnes of bronze, and was never exhibited by Rodin. But there is another, more abstract version (completed in plaster in 1900), which eliminates most of the characters, leaving a turbulent enigmatic surface.

The video packs a lot in to its 26 mins; and offers an interesting context for both renditions as sculptures very much of their time, by a cutting-edge artist.

It's part of a series by Canal Educatif, introducing various aspects of art history.

(PS - On that site, don't be fooled by the ever-changing title: The Gates of Hell: The Story of a Damned Artwork, The Gates of Hell: From Expression to Abstraction... it might as well be Lough Adheann Ine Hyne Oighin).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bring out your dead

Oh wait now, that's not right... I mean bring out your Chaucer, while it's still April.

I finally dug out Chaucer this morning (and by 'dug' I mean read online, since I'm still parted from my lovely well-worn Riverside). Ah, the General Prologue in April, how fitting. Most Aprils I find my way back to it, and then go onwards to a couple of tales. Hmm... I think The Knight's Tale this year, and something to balance that, perhaps The Miller's - sexual intrigue, bawdy humour, apocalyptic foreboding, fake Flood - that tale's got it all.

Anyhoo, here's the opening (you can hear the fab Larry D. Benson reading the Middle English here):

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages...

Dun dun dunnnnn... love this time of year: feels like all of nature is on the move.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Medley

Yikes, is that the time...

While I think of it: David Simon, executive producer of the oh-so-fabulous The Wire - is interviewed here by Bill Moyers, who remarks: “What Edward Gibbon was to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, or Charles Dickens to the smokey, mean streets of Victorian London, David Simon is to America today.” Aaah, how I love that show; as Simon says, it's not the story of America, but "the story of the America that got left behind..."

And in this Baltimore, we're also talking productions - something summerey, open-airey, something of the Shakespeare variety. The plan is to do scenes from several different plays, and lead the audience through the delightful Glebe Gardens from one setting to another. After a very rough casting, I've been sent home to read Queen Titania for 3.I of Midsummer Night's Dream. Know what the lady does for 90% of the scene? Naps. Well, maybe she snoozes too; I haven't quite figured out my motivation yet...

And in other news: the advantage of doing the odd bit of volunteering for Glenans Irish Sail Club is that should you wander in to work, perchance waffley about the lovely sailing at the weekend, the office shifts into Encouragement Mode and sends you away with an armful of resources :-)

Have a fabulous weekend :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuneful things

So there I was this morning, sipping coffee and listening to Leonard Cohen Live at the Beacon Theatre - recorded in February this year. I realised I'd never mentioned that it was available to download free; but when I double-checked links for posting, it turned out the free-ness was 'for a limited period only'. Sigh.

So before the e-music landscape shifts again, a couple of music-ey things: although it can no longer stream the Cohen concert, NPR Music has a fine archive of concerts, interviews & studio sessions, from Indigo Girls to Bell X1, Yo-Yo Ma to Lou Reed. Well worth exploring.

And there's Paul McCartney's concert last week at Coachella, largely a tribute to Linda on the 11th anniversary of her death. With a set-list of 35 songs, it sounds like it was quite a gig.

And from that night, here's 'Something', on ukulele (for the first half).


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tree thoughts

I had a lovely conversation about trees at the weekend (with the Forester of Glenstal Abbey) and have been pondering trees since: trees planted in memory, or to mark a birth, or to shield a home, trees that we etch a message into, so that they can hold for us the proof of love, or simply of presence, that we once stood under its boughs, alive... There's a tree in Cambridge that a friend passed cycling to work each day; she had recently moved there, and was feeling a bit disconnected, and this small cherry tree became like a friend to her, like family, rooted and stable. And in time it flowered, as did she.

Anyhoo, that's me today. Thinking about trees.

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

--Pueblo Indian Prayer

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tell-Tale Signs

Ah, sailing. I am so hooked.

So, Sunday Post-Play, my treat was to take a boat trip out to Heir/Hare/Hejer Island (okay I made one of those up). And off we set across Roaringwater Bay. Along the way we pass the rocks called The Two Women, the local equivalent of a scold's bridle - just take the uppity woman out and leave her on the rocks overnight; she'll have quietened down in the morning. Ah, wouldn't it fill you with nostalgia for days of yore...

The passengers were offered a chance at the wheel, steering this gorgeous 50-foot yacht on the open water. When it was my turn, I asked for simple instructions: Left. Right. Big bit. Little bit. Skipper kept it basic: "Aim for the pink house on that island... aim for the rust shed on that other island," and off I went, very happy indeed.

We heard a rib coming up behind us: it had two men, one pointing a camera. "The paparazzi", a crewmember says. "She's here!!" shouts Skipper, pointing to me, "the famous star!"

Anyhoo, then he taught me to trim sails, and tack (and when Mr Crewman went to tighten my work, he couldn't; "She's as strong as you!" exclaims Skipper), and I spent the trip calling "Tack Alert Tack Alert!" and zipping from one side of the boat to the other. At one point, I wondered if all this tacking was really necessary, if Skipper might be just tricking me...

Anyhoo, we saw seals, and swans, and meandered out to Hare. Chocolate cake & coffee (along with some almighty slagging between me and the crew). Then a walk on the island, which not only has the cleanest calves ever, but also has a gallery, with printed evidence of why we love West Cork.

And then homewards: more seals, tacking and trimming galore, and then I was recalled to the wheel as Baltimore came into view. And I took the... ahem... shiny expensive yacht right in to dock. Without a scratch :-)

I finished up the Heritage Festival sitting outside Bushe's, catching up with friends. People kept stopping, saying that we should do the play through the summer. And they moved on, our laughter echoing in their ears. (Actually, sweet moments dotted over the weekend, as various children raced up to me, stopped momentarily to deliver the line "I thought you were brilliant in the play" then raced on again while I was still thanking them). Anyway, sitting outside Bushes, all the tiredness of the week caught up with me, and I flumped. And a man left our table, and as he walked away I noticed he reached into a brown paper bag and I murmured longingly, 'Oh, he's eating chips...'

And lo, the gods in their benevolence didst smile down upon me. For the departing chips were the final portions from the Last Stop Chipper, and their manager ran after the guy and presented me with the bag, which was duly opened out on the table.** Thick and warm and crispy and perfect.

A perfect end to the weekend :-)

** Okay there was a single member of the table who did not partake, for the sole reason of retaining the moral high ground while he formulated nefarious rumours that I had literally stolen the food out of another's mouth. Moi?? Surely non!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Piratey Pics

Okay, so it started all calm and quiet...

And then the sneakiness started...

And har-harrrrs were heard...

And general mayhem ensued, involving a slave auction, fancy dancers, and a grand entrance by the Pasha.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

If you build it...

A still morning. Little birds are happily chirpy-singing. And if you listen very carefully, you can hear the words: "It's over. All over. We're done."

So, after an intense afternoon, talking pottery and Marc Chagall and the restoration of the Ilen project, which is progressing "unencumbered by a client or funds", we set up at Dun Na Sead (too sleepy right now to find fadas) castle for the pirate play.

And the audience began to arrive. Followed by more audience, and more. And they filled the long room of the castle, sitting and standing and perching where they could. And then more people arrived, and we finally said 'Okay: two shows.'

So we performed, to rooms so packed that I had to walk around people to get to my props, or lean over a certain Godfather-esque local publican who was seated (with his dog) right in the path of travel.

And the audiences were fantastic, and the play went just fine, twice. And although I was a smidge... stern when people started talking about putting it on again (a) for the O'Driscoll Clan gathering, and (b) every weekend through the summer, this morning, I decided I'm probably ready to start weaning myself off my say-no-to-grinding-teeth night guard. Probably.

So there's footage and photos to follow (and an Irish Times photographer appeared, so who knows what Monday's paper will contain), but right now, it's time for breakfast :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just checking in...

Weeks like this, I wish I was all set up with twitpic and mobile blogging and knew every function of Dial2Do inside and out. For it's been a colourful, surreal few days, and I shall have probably have to wait for the dust to settle before I can do justice to it in words and pictures.

But in brief: there's an article on the pirate play in today's Examiner; the craftey market is setting up down on the pier as I type, so I'm shortly off to learn about lobster pots and more. And there's a fabulous, soulful man in town called Brother Anthony Keane, Forester of Glenstal Abbey, who will be speaking on the restoration of the Ilen. Promises to be a treaty afternoon.

And then Piracy. And then life Post-Piracy. Happy sigh.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Money for Old Rope

Just back from standing in the rain outside the boatyard, furtively trying to salvage old rope from random debris. And - of course - at that moment, a car slowly reverses out of the boatyard, a window rolls down.

My Piracy/Life balance has officially tipped. Sigh.

However, we now have some good tying-uppey rope (although costumes, lines, fluidity of stage movement are all still, ahem... "in development").

Roll on Saturday. In particular, roll on Saturday post-play.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Walk of Shame

Bank Holiday Monday, it was all go in Baltimore! Most of the InstaSailingCrowd had disappeared, and the afternoon of blazing sunshine brought everyone out to catch up, enjoy a Bulmer's in the square, or do something a smidge more energetic.

From the cool of Bushes, I watched elegant currachs approaching across the bay. They were part of a sponsored row from Schull to Baltimore (and appropriately enough, a rower from the Irish Olympic team was also watching their approach, approvingly). Star of the show was one of our ferrymen, who abandoned mechanised transport and took up oars, and made excellent time.

The other event was the RNLI walk, to raise money for the local lifeboats. The route (which stretched out to Lough Oighin) was five miles, with an optional extra four miles. Or, if you cheated - yes, cheated, on a charity walk - it was probably a smidge under nine miles. Because it turns out that one of the walkers decided to off-road and cut through a field, thinking no-one would notice. But oh, phone calls were made. News reached Bushes in seconds, and within minutes the Route Map was duly altered to mark the shameful shortcut.

And if that wasn't enough, someone who er... happened to have her laptop with her, and too much time on her hands, did up some little road signs (yes, downloading the Irish Road Sign font and all). And this morning, a cohort laminated said signs, and put them up as a lesson to all Would Be Cheaters out there. Naughty naughty.

AND the other thing that happened yesterday was that I got to meet the fabulous lobster pot maker (who it turned out, I already knew). And he (wait for it) said that I could help make such a pot at the Heritage Festival this weekend!! All praise...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bunny Blog

Okay, turns out that Good Friday has its own special traditions here. One restaurant in the village stays open, and serves wine (as long as you're eating). The standard order seemed to be:
- chips x 1
- bottle of wine x 2

And there's also the folk who head to Sherkin for some Good Friday fun, er... I mean, ritual observances. One local reappeared on Saturday morning, having missed the last ferry. Well, if he will insist on reciting just one more decade of the rosary...

And then I walked into the village yesterday and it was like someone had beamed down InstaSailingCrowd. Hundreds and hundreds of people, more than 100 perfect little white sails, looking like neat handkerchiefs gliding across the bay. I huddled at the local table at Bushes; tried to cope with the shock as I was told 'Jaysus this is nothing, Girl!'

The summer is suddenly looking a whole lot more productive for me :-) And while I missed getting a photo of the zillions of boats, later in the afternoon Glenans were practicing. And shouting. A lot.

Anyhoo, then this morning I headed out for a run on the hamster wheel, and was caught by something glittery among my geraniums.

The ever-mysterious Easter Bunny had been :-)

So, before the day gets taken over with rugby (Come on Munster!!!) and pints and skyping with family and friends, right now it's quiet: night lights lit; coffee made. And instead of the traditional Messiah (yeah yeah, first performed in Fishamble Street in Dublin) I've opted for Forever Changes by Love, without a doubt the trippiest dippiest album ever. It would make you want to go and hand out blossoms to strangers...

And it's perfect :-)

Have a gorgeous weekend.

Friday, April 10, 2009

News round up

Well, Tuesday disappeared in a flurry of catch-up sessions with friends. Rehearsal on Wednesday evening was postponed because there was a press launch for the Heritage Festival (brochure available here), and some of the piratey cast went along.

This year, one of the festival highlights is the restoration of the 'Ilen', a boat (locally-built, in the 1920s I think) which spent decades in the Falklands, and has come home to be spruced up. To mark the occasion, our VIP guests were... oh I can't remember their proper (peer/job) titles - basically they owned the Falklands in the 1960s. Anyhoo, they were delightful. The evening got everyone geared up for next weekend (walking, sailing, pirating and craftey things - including those gorgeous lobster pots I fell in love with on Sherkin Island; there's a treat coming up for me).

Posted by Picasa

Yesterday's pub quiz was great craic, and had joint winners, one of whom was The Fastnet Falcons. Go us!!!

And today, being Good Friday, the village seems pretty chilled. Gruelling day so far: lazy breakfast, sauna, coffee... and now there's a whole roasting-of-food système happening in the kitchen, which I have nothing to do with. Love that!

Guess I'll just kick back, watch Murder, She Wrote, maybe do a crosaire...

Have a fabulous Easter, all :-)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Under the radar

I'm alive!! Sorry for the absence - it's been a crazy busy week: piracy, heritage festival thingeys, local IT emergencies...

Have rehearsal in a couple of minutes and then Fiddle Fair pub quiz; will be back on the air 'properly' tomorrow, with photos and fireworks and everything. Promise.

Monday, April 6, 2009


This sunshiney afternoon, I dropped by the place I lived when I first came to West Cork. It was probably this time last year when I moved in (during TBBI: the time before blogging in Ireland).

I drove up the back roads to the secluded house overlooking the sea. The sound of the waves carries up the valley; you can hear it inside the house, over any typing sounds. Today the herd of cows were still gathered close to the house (last year they used to watch Orlaith TV, they'd just follow me from room to room, see what I was up to). And the birds were gathering all their nesty materials, and the bluebells and wild garlic and bright yellow gorse were all in bloom; it won't be too long before the spires of cerise foxglove start appearing.

So, I stood listening to the waves. I used to make my way down through the fields to the strand - a little stretch of sheltered beach. Sometimes as I passed by, the cows would all start mooing loudly, like a bovine security alarm. I remembered the day it was discovered that the little wire field-fences were sometimes electrified (sorry Shona!).

Back then, the neighbour-farmers knew me, and they were fine with me going through the fields; this year I should probably drive the long way around to the beach. So, I picked up the gardeney things that I'd left there (for tis the season of planting up) and retraced my steps, away from the lovely, inspirational place.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wanted: A Captive Audience

Okay folks, the piratey poster is ready to be launched...

No turning back now. Gulp.

Have a great weekend :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Observers

Scriptorium Museum days: occasionally instead of bringing manuscripts up to my office, I'd camp out in the gallery itself. And sometimes, I'd be working away while a tour came in. They'd peruse the collection while the guide talked about manuscripts, the birth of print, history of the biblical text, yadda yadda.

But then the tour would take a turn, as the guide gestured over to me, enthusing: "Sometimes we have visiting scholars who come to study the collection, but here is our own Orlaith. You can see, she's currently working on a manuscript". And everyone would come close to observe me: she's reading, she's turning a page, she's reading some more...

And that's the feeling I have now, because there's a couple standing outside the house, looking in, watching me type...

Anyhoo, in saner news: enjoyed a fab lunch with friends who are staying out on the Sheep's Head this week. And it's a glorious sunshiney day, which looks something like this:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trust no one

Ah, April Fool's Day.

In a regular year, I try to keep my head down and just get through the day. I am the most gullible person on the planet; no matter how many years pass, it still never occurs to me that while a friend is chatting away, their real purpose may be to dupe me into believing a lie.

This year may be worse than usual - pranks here seem to be well-developed & fiendishly devious. Sigh.

But here's a charming one from Fwitter - "now you have time to get smart". And it's closer to the truth than you'd think; there's already one site offering wisdom in 90 second doses. But not Fora - they make us raise our game, schedule time to listen, to learn. At least, every other day in the year, they do...