Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A room of one's own

Despite the moments of sunshine and springlike bluster, I suspect the underlying weather today is just plain bleak. Bleak cold bleak.

However, in other news (thanks to oculture for referring), you can now whirl around in a panoramic tour of the Sistine Chapel online. With wall frescoes by Perugino, Raphael & Botticelli, and a Last Judgement and ceiling by Michelangelo, it's quite a room.

Virtual Sistine Chapel (It takes a little while to load, but the waiting music is pretty.)

I remember years ago, a friend of mine gave a fascinating talk on the development of the Serpent figure from the Garden of Eden: it starts out being represented as a plain ole snake, but gradually gets a human face, which then develops into a recognisably female face. And over the centuries, more of the Root-of-All-Humanity's-Problems Serpent becomes ladylike, reaching its peak with Michelangelo.

Though the chapel still fills spectators with awe, here's Michelangelo's feeling on his work:

"I've already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water's poison).
My stomach's squashed under my chin, my beard's
pointing at heaven, my brain's crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy's. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

M is for Monday, M is for...

Crosswords done, half way through pot of coffee, kitties already finished morning playtime and napping peacefully. The lashing rain of early morning has receded to a grey drizzle-rain. A morning for candles, most certainly.

Trying to get a scene worked out before this afternoon's Nosey Rosie fiesta. Deadlines are looming in terms of launches, stocking up in Easons and an Easter Sunday reading. With this being a four-day week, we're pushed for printing time. Basically, I need to sit in a printer's office, learn some new software, convert each page of the book across, re-do a bunch of effects and retype the type. As I said to a friend earlier today: What could possibly go wrong?

"Merde" was his response.

Anyhoo, that's a Later Thing. For now: nudge kitty off lap, get coffee, write stuff.

"Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success." - Dale Carnegie


Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fun

I woke this morning with a song in my head: 'Complain' by Bob Roberts. The cheerful gusto with which he sings 'some people must have / some simply will not / but they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complaaaaaaaain'.

Needless to say, this morning has been peppered with chuckles. I do love that film...

Kitties have been playing Henny Penny: all in good fun, until Max tore in with a thick mohican of hair standing upright all along his spine. He'd sported the look to meet the neighbourhood springer spaniel, I think. He's curled up on a sunshiney windowsill now, images of liver & white floppy ears no more than a distant memory.

So, before I get off this machine and onto the Writing Notebook, the news in brief:
> for Baltimore Drama aficionados out there, all the images are now online -the drama blog is over at baltimoredramagroup.blogspot.com
> Nosey Rosie progresses slowly. [That'll be what they find me mumbling when they come to invite me to stay in the Home for the Bewildered.] I'll be working with the printer on Monday, and we'll take it from there.
> printing matters aside, plans are for me to do a Nosey Rosie reading on Easter Sunday at the ever-lovely Glebe Gardens. More details as I get them.
> For anyone who missed it, this comic made a splash online this week: Alien Vs Pooh, where the hunny-loving golden bear makes a discovery in Hundred Acre Wood, and has a gastronomic emergency...

Have a lovely weekend, all X

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Not-so-mellow yellow

This time of year, yellow creeps into thoughts and conversations. How perfect a shade is the yellow of wild primrose, how bright and confident the first daffodils look...

...and then there's the yellow of Sainsbury's Butterlicious, currently festooning our coastline.

Ah, the Irish Sea in January: a container ship, a stormy night, something comes loose... In early February, the strand at Ballycotton (in East Cork) is plagued by cartons of spreadable almost-butter. RTE noted it, briefly; apparently Cork County Council were investigating matters. And now, the Butter Hordes are here: fishermen out past Cape Clear are finding themselves floating in a sea of yellow cartons; Sherkin beach & Trafraska resemble an imitation Life on Earth show, with butter cartons instead of little newly-hatched turtles; wave after wave of these yellow boxes beaching themselves along our shores.

And so, if you should pass what you think is a Modern Art installation along the shoreline, check the label.

Thanks to Ginny for raising our awareness of this, and for the inspirational cleaning up work!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday monday

Still no news on the missing boy. The Coastguard went out again this afternoon...

Well, a day of myriad weather here, from glorious spring sunshine to wintery dark blustery rain. Maybe it's a heaviness in the air, but I've had a headache for the day. I rarely get one, but when I do, they're tenacious!

Anyhoo, off for a Nosey Rosie meeting now, and then rest.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And is there care in Heaven...

An odd mix today.

Living in a little village situated on the edge of a dangerous coastline, things happen. Stuff goes wrong with yachts, with fishing vessels, with swimmers, with visitors, locals - with anyone.

This morning, a boy - a young man, aged 19 - was fishing in the dawn light with a friend, and was caught by a wave and taken in.

And so today, the Lifeboat went out searching, and the gardai brought down another rib boat to help. During the Ireland game, they arrived into Jacobs, forced to call off the search for the day. They'll start again at first light, having worked out tides and currents and probabilities.

There have been a few serious incidents since I moved to this small village, where the work of the Lifeboat is so prominent. I guess what's unfamiliar to me is that life is kept deliberately normal. The issue isn't avoided: it's discussed, then conversation is steered on to something else, something entirely normal and everyday. As though to demonstrate that life is going on. There are still pizzas to order and matches to cheer on and kids setting up the pool table and somehow, the planet is managing to keep spinning on its axis, despite the fact that a boy is out there, lost.

Friday, March 19, 2010

At the dimming of the day

Afternoon is darkening, lots of candles glowing. About to immerse myself into a big chapter.

In case anyone missed it, there was a clip highlighted this week by the very fabulous openculture: film that Thomas Edison took of Mark Twain when he visited him at his home Shadowfield in 1909. If that isn't a play waiting to be written... quite the meeting of giants.

Anyhoo, it's silent, and deteriorated, and the only known film of Twain. Who would die the next year. Resonances galore in its flickery fadedness, as though Twain and his daughters were already half-ghosts.

Have a lovely weekend, all :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Upsidedowney Thinking

Just checking in to say hi, before I get back to some writing.

So, I just tried a 'build yourself up towards inversions' yoga journal class. Inversions, as you might imagine, are those upsidedowney poses: headstands and handstands, all strong steady arms and graceful poised legs. A smidge daunting for one who mistrusts her wrists and gets tired of her arms registering soreness. And of course, there's plain ole' Fear, for by 'daunting' I mean 'very scary indeed'.

Between Inversions and Crow Pose, I thought I'd have two suitable methods to help nurture trust. If I can fly in Crow, and can hold myself safely upsidedown... actually, I'm not sure quite what that proves, but the thought brings a smile. I'm reminded of a postcard a friend has up in her kitchen, with the Beckett quote 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better'. That's pretty much exactly how this practice feels. Failing with a light heart :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

what's in a name

'What film are you going to see?' asks the nice waitress as she sets down our pre-cinema dinner.

A good question.

There were misconceptions galore.
I thought we were going to see the Coen Brothers' movie, which I thought was called A Simple Man.
One friend thought we were going to see A Simple Man, the Colin Firth/Julianne Moore film.
The third (and usually always right) person knew exactly what was ahead of us: A Serious Man, by the Coen Brothers.

Sigh. And I thought I'd done well to distinguish A Simple Man from A Simple Plan and A Beautiful Mind.

Of course, later I was trying to think of the title of Blood Simple. Distrust abounded.

Anyhoo, in other news, the photos from the Shakespeare in the Garden are now uploaded over at the Drama blog. Thanks to Ger, again!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Festina lente

A lovely mix for the weekend: friends and films and writing and rugby and pints and reading and podcast catch-up.

The images from the production of The Miser are finally in, uploaded, and available for your viewing pleasure.

They're residing over at the drama group's new blog: http://baltimoredramagroup.blogspot.com/. You can view the slideshow of photos there, or go to the original slideshow and press F11 for full screen.

While images can't capture the freezing-ness of the environment, you get an idea of the farcical goings-on. Thanks to Ger Murphy for all of the photos :-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shining bright

Last night, Veronica Canning gave a talk entitled 'Thrive not Survive', and in it she talked about figuring out your big vision: doing something that you love and feel passionate about, something that's a little bit frightening in its audacity.

Anyhoo, she mentioned a poem by Marianne Williamson that's often misattributed to Mandela (he quoted it in his landmark inaugural speech). I had only just come across it a week or so ago, so here it is, for your thought-provoking pleasure:

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Have a lovely weekend, folks :-)

Sleepy thoughts

Just about to hit the hay...

This evening was an event called Network South West, where businesswomen and entrepreneurs come together. Sharon Rose and I were there showcasing Nosey Rosie. We arrived, a little tired, a little hungry, and geared up for the event.

Nosey was just the belle of the ball. Great feedback and support; thanks to all who took the time to spend with us :-)

*And* our stand happened to be beside the fabulous purveyors of Caherbeg Free Range Pork, Rosscarbery, who served up their award-winning black and white pudding and some great pate. All of which sustained us, all the way home.

Yaaaaaawwwwwwn. Nightey night X

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

She's ready for her close up

This afternoon we headed to The Glebe gardens for a photo shoot: we had a bunch of photographic equipment (complete with photographer), Sharon's lovely Nosey Rosie clothing range, some fabulous children, balloons and a dinky toadstool.

We were ready.

My designated role was as Holder of the Gargantuan Chocolate Bar. It was, sadly, not real: a 5 foot slab of polystyrene, covered with gold foil. Very Cadburys.

Coincidentally, most of us had been in The Glebe on Sunday - that sunny, temperate afternoon. Today was... not that. The weather had been slowly turning all day, but the process sped up upon our arrival: colder, darker, windier. We stuck at it for nearly two hours, and the children were phenomenal throughout; I reckon we managed to get through about two-thirds of the shots. Weather forecasts, local sages & oracles are being consulted for Round Two.

We had some good fun though :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Shoulders of Giants

I watched some of the Oscar speeches this morning; it seemed that a common theme was 'those who have gone before' - trailblazers in the form of parents, teachers, activists, spouses, icons and all the 'without whoms' (I'm not naming winner-names, in case anyone out there is managing to stifle their ears to the results until the edited highlights screen this evening).

Anyhoo (and let it be said, I'm a total sucker for this gratitude/those-who-teach-me-have-my-everlasting-respect stuff), I happily blinked tears watching it. I found it heartwarming, that - at what is potentially the most egocentric moment of a person's life - they'd see themselves as part of a continuum, as interconnected - the result of the work and lives and love of so many others, past and present. Lovely flavour of awareness and humility to the evening. Inspiring :-)

Okay, back to work.

Friday, March 5, 2010

weekend beckons

Just about to pop up some popcorn for lunch and get back to scribbling.

And maybe it's because I know family members are over in London for a wedding-tastic weekend, or maybe it's the irrepressible sunshiney-ness of the day, but there's a whole long-weekend feel to today. I reckon one more pot of coffee, and then there'll be a little chime tinging beer o'clock...

Have a lovely weekend, all X

Thursday, March 4, 2010

World Book Day

In the lead-up to World Book Day, a local school had invited Sharon Rose & myself in to talk about Nosey Rosie. And so off we set yesterday morning, with hats and books and stickers, and a vague sense of where we were going.

The plan was that we'd speak to two classes, but as we finished the school asked if we could stay and speak to another two. Opening up the floor to children is always a blast. The conversation and questions - as always with children - were surprising and delightful and unimpeded by limitations and expectations.
Will there be a Nosey Rosie cartoon?
It was my birthday yesterday.
Will there be Nosey Rosie dolls?
My name is Ava!
Will Nosey Rosie get a baby brother?
My granny has a magnifying glass.

Kept us on our toes. Then we talked about reading and drawing, knitting and crazy hats...

As we were leaving, the headmaster made his way through the throng of children to us, smiling: 'They tell me Nosey Rosie is very nosy'.

Word is out :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Kitty Who Cried Wolverine

The kitties are playing Henny Penny.

In their new all-grown-up (as if...) phase, they get to go outside for a couple of hours each day. They disappear out of sight immediately, and I turn from the window and tell myself that there is no indigenous population of wolverines in West Cork, that animals should go outside, that a life lived in fear is a life half-lived...

Throughout their Big Wide World session, they thunder in to the house, mewing and yawling - as though they're saying 'The sky is falling' or 'Dubh's been run over!' or 'Max has just been gored - come quick!!!'

It's all very Skippy: 'What's that? Timmy's stuck down the well? Broken femur, you reckon?' The first few times I went out to check on the absent kitty - expecting to find Cujo snarling in the back garden. Or, you know, a wolverine. But no...

So here I sit, working away. They take turns racing in, all 'the sky is falling', snuggle up earnestly for two seconds, like they're just making sure that House Life is as they left it, then off they go, completely happy.

Sigh. Little darlings :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Digger Mania

Forget the Beacon, forget Lough Hyne (however you spell it), the place to be on a sunny afternoon is pierside, watching the diggers. For your viewing pleasure, there are two projects that you can alternate between: the new Slipway (which only gets worked on at low tide) and the Smushing Up of the Wrecks (which also pauses occasionally - for example, when they realise that they haven't thought to put any protective barrier around the smushing area, and there's bits of boat drifting off to become Area Rubbish).

Locally, it's all the rage, but there was surprise when the Smushing digger attraction featured on the news last night - both the 6pm and the 9pm - in the midst of reports on worldwide calamities and rising death tolls. This afternoon in Bushes, discussion of the interviews was... colourful.

I passed by on Sunday, made my way between the parked cars filled with people, watching the work in progress as though it was a sunset. And in a way, I guess it was...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Entertaining spaces

I spent most of Friday in the V&A Museum, in their newly revamped Medieval & Renaissance galleries. Such a thoughtfully considered space, filled with a zillion treaty things: mermaid capitals and fantastic salt cellars and sumptuous tapestries and reliquaries and illuminated manuscripts and champleve enamels and lions and tigers and bears oh my...

Anyway, I'd recommend it. That's all I'm saying. Most treaty.

And from there, I met Sara and we headed for London Bridge, to gather under the arches for Southwark Playhouse's Henry V. On arrival, it turned out that for that evening, we would be mostly French. So we sat with the blue team, lining three sides of an enormous board game (the red English squeezed along the fourth side). Clearly, tonnes of thought had gone into how to communicate the heavily-edited script with a small cast, and while several things didn't really work, it was great to see them tried at least. Despite shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed the wacky take on Hal growing up, as trains rumbled overhead. It suited us perfectly that evening.

And the Battle of Agincourt was a skittles match. Can't beat that!