Monday, August 22, 2011


I often get sick after travelling, and it happened again. I spent the last few days cooped up in the house, reading and watching movies when the headache wasn't too bad and sleeping the rest of the time. By day 4 (yesterday) I was going a bit crazy. Usually I am not an impatient patient, but this time it wasn't even assuaged by the fact that I had permission to do nothing and sleep as much as I needed. I ate too many carbs, my skin was breaking out, the time passed very slowly and I didn't see or speak to anybody (which explains why I just had a conversation with my landlady's son that was pretty much just me blabbering incoherently, in a high-pitched voice).

Today I decided I'd been sick long enough (I also felt better) and that in order to get out of the post-illness funk I needed to act the way I wanted to feel (click to read Gretchen Rubin's Third Commandment). So I acted energetic. It really works. I also did some deep breathing to get rid of toxins and a tiny bit of yoga (five minutes).

But what helped me most to feel myself again was playing around with the illustrations I am working on. That meant not worrying about the outcome, just enjoying the colours -green was a good choice- and the meditative state that drawing lots of leaf-shapes close together brings.

After that I was cured and even went for a run. I burnt some nice incense and I cleaned every square centimetre of my floors and all the skirting boards (immensely satisfying). And I have something to look forward to: my older sister and her husband are coming today- this August is family month!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Poetry and passion

"Memorizing lines engages a person with the rhythms of another mind and allows the thought of another, perfectly preserved, to act as a comfort to be turned to in emergencies, like a house that remains standing."  ~ Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden, Bloomsbury, London 2011, p. 52

"One woman told me that she uses the complete works of Emily Dickinson as a form of I Ching: 'Wherever it falls open, I know I will find something there.' "  ~ Daisy Goodwin in The Sunday Times, 14/08/2011

Poetry and felt mouse

When I was a teenager and in my early twenties I consumed poetry daily. I'd spend a lot of time in the poetry sections of bookshops, and when I bought the Bloodaxe anthology Staying Alive, it was one of those defining book moments: it seemed to contain everything I could hope for; the poems expressed things I had thought inexpressible.

Recently I found out that a third anthology has been published (Being Human - the second was Being Alive). I still haven't bought it. When I saw the book I realised I haven't bought a poetry book in quite a long time. I have some favourite poems up on my walls and mirrors, I read reviews of poetry every week (and have been putting titles on a reading list), but I haven't actively sought out poetry in a while.

These days I feel I am returning to it. I have been thinking about my younger self, who was so passionate about discovering a new book/CD/artist. I still am, but it hasn't been happening as often (this may be due in part to the easy availability of everything in the internet age - in the past I never really ordered anything, but instead found things, which is more gratifying, and if I got a recommendation, I searched for the item for ages, and finding it at last would come with a sense of achievement). This visceral joy and excitement when I stumble upon a great book or hear a beautiful piece of music makes me feel engaged and connected with something bigger. It happened recently with The Paper Garden, which coincidentally is written by a poet and which I found in a museum bookshop. 

I got a glimpse of it again when I was in West Cork (see last post) and then again yesterday when I watched American Beauty for the second time after twelve years and it got me thinking and I ended up reading up on it. 

I'm not sure why I am linking it to poetry (it could be anything), but somehow I see the passionate, enthusiastic me as a poetry-reading person. A poem can instantly catapult you into this state of wonder. I will get that new anthology.


This is a poem I discovered through Natalie Merchant's interpretation of it; it continues to haunt me:


See, they are clearing the sawdust course
For the girl in pink on the milk-white horse.
Her spangles twinkle; his pale flanks shine,
Every hair of his tail is fine
And bright as a comet's; his mane blows free,
And she points a toe and bends a knee,
And while his hoofbeats fall like rain
Over and over and over again.
And nothing that moves on land or sea 
Will seem so beautiful to me
As the girl in pink on the milk-white horse
Cantering over the sawdust course.

~Rachel Field (1894-1942)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Revisiting West Cork

It's been quiet around here because my brain is still fried (cause unknown).
I've been back in Ireland for a few days now, but today is my first day at home, as we crashed my sister and her husband's honeymoon (part one) in Bantry. West Cork is where we went on holiday with our family a few times when we were teenagers, and the last time we had been was ten years ago, which is hard to believe. I am feeling very nostalgic now, and it was difficult to say goodbye to the honeymooners there, much more so than usually (and it is always difficult).

These pictures are all from sunny Day Two on Garinish Island, except the first one, which is in Glengarriff and was taken on rainy Day One.

Apparently it was wet and cold here the last month, more or less the same as in Germany, so it's nice to get some sun now. I woke to blue skies this morning and went for a lovely run, on which I was welcomed back by my two gorgeous canine friends who always stop me when I run past their house to lick my face and leave paw prints on my clothes. This helped to settle back in again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Purple and gold

I have been sick for the last few days and am still too weak to hold a mug with one hand (though that can also be the case when I'm well -sometimes I just lose the feeling in my wrist/hand, so do not put your feet up on the couch beside me when I am drinking hot tea -sorry again, T.!), so just a couple of recent paintings today...

She Would Drown - Acrylic and oil on canvas

After the Storm - Oil and acrylic on canvas board