Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Come Dance With Me In Ireland

Just back from my set dancing class. It was only mighty. I've almost got the Kilfenora set and there were lovely tricky bits in that West Kerry set. The class is in the old Enniskerry village hall which is something out of the 1950s with its big wooden floor and high windows. We dance from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. with a little break for tea and biscuits. Set dancing is addictive; everyone who does it says so. The intricate patterns weave a soothing sort of magic in the soul. I've put my name down for a full weekend of it end of September. The last time I did one of those was about 13 years ago -- "Commotion By the Ocean" at Salthill, Co. Galway -- with the great set dancing master, Connie Ryan (may he rest in peace).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Census Ireland

It's the night when everyone in Ireland must sit down and do the census. I'm off to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and fill out the form. There's something oddly comforting and thrilling about such an en masse participatory human activity. As the North American Natives say, "we are all family."

Saturday, April 22, 2006

JK Rowling

Recently discovered JK’s website, not the ones set up by the film companies or publishers, but her own personal space: www.jkrowling.com. It’s quite magical, but also down-to-earth; like herself, I imagine. She even blogs, e.g. a writerly complaint about not being able to get paper in downtown Edinburgh. She sounds like a real sweetie. Once I got over my envy at her inconceivable success, I finally read her books and declared myself a fan. I’ve reviewed her twice for Books in Canada. I don’t know why people say she isn't literary. Who are they comparing her to? Dostoevsky? Her writing is at least as good as CS Lewis’s in the Chronicles of Narnia and he is considered "literary".

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Willing Spirit

Did I make it? Nah. The spirit was willing but the oul flesh was weak. Did pop into a church, however, on Easter Sunday morning just in time to hear the priest say "come out of your tomb and into renewal, begin your new life!" Okay, says I, and saw where that fit perfectly into the theme of the new book. Going like the clappers at last. (See Book blog.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter

If I get my act together, I may wake in the wee hours of the morning on Easter Sunday and climb Bray Head for the ecumenical service on the summit as the sun rises. (Then big breakfast for everybody in the Christchurch hall.) When I lived in Kinvara, on the west coast, I was lucky enough to attend the service that Druid-Priest-Poet-Writer John O'Donohue (of Anamcara fame) used to hold in the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey. He would light a great Paschal Fire on the side of the mountain which everyone could see burning brightly as we headed out in our cars in the black of night, down the narrow twisty roads of the coast. Then he celebrated Mass on the priest's rock in the graveyard outside the abbey walls, while it was still dark. You could sense and even see the ancestral spirits hovering in the crowd. By communion time - "all are welcome to the feast" - he had moved us into the shelter of the ruins and dawn would be rising and the new day come. Famous Clare musicians such as Davey Spillane filled the air with traditional tunes. Wonderful. Yes, I shall try to get up Bray Head.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Magical Visit

Well, the visit with Herbie Brennan (Faerie Wars) and his wife, Jacquie, was even more magical than I could have hoped. First the drive over the mountains across Calary Bog to Glendalough and up through the Wicklow Gap to County Carlow. Then arrival at a big 18th century house with a stone circle on the front lawn and rookeries in the tall trees. After that, a delicious lunch of potato soup, smoked salmon, sprout and spinach salad, assorted cheeses, and an onion quiche. (Jacquie is a herbalist and gifted cook). And as we feasted, such chat as makes the heart and mind sing. To quote Herman Hesse, "in a world of exiled wanderers, there are times when paths cross and for a while we feel at home."
PS More about Herbie on my book blog!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


And here's me as a firefighter at NBCD School (Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defence) when I was an Officer Cadet in the Canadian Naval Reserve. I look like a bug. A big black bug. (Say that 3x fast.) In truth, I was hopeless. Kept backing AWAY from the fire while the P.O. (Petty Officer) was yelling at me to go forward.
I see two of the gang behind me, Nancy and Eva I think. The only female platoon, we had to name ourselves after some Canadian or British ship. Maureen and I were pushing for "Impregnable" but the final call was "Magnificent Division."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

California Girl

Sorry for the mess of this photo, but it is very old. That's me blowing a chewing gum bubble in Santa Cruz before heading south for L.A. Steve from Maine is to the left of me, then Carl from San Francisco (boyfriend of Carol who is taking the picture), then Mark, also from Maine (he and Steve were heading north, to homestead in the Yukon) and - dearest of all - Ron, from Kentucky. Ron was our guardian angel on the road. We were living on Highway One that summer. "Transients" they called us. Street kids. It was my first great adventure, camping out in the world. I was 18.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prairie Epipsychidion

Quote from amazing Canadian writer:

"The world fails to dissolve at the edges into myth and dream, only because one wills it not to."

Sharon Butala, The Perfection of the Morning.