Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Craic

It was a mighty Christmas, ranking up there with Felice Navidad in Espana last year. Here are two views of the fabulous ginger bread house Findabhair created along with her little cousin, Alice. No kidding, it was made from scratch. Finn downloaded the recipe from the Internet and away she went with her magic fingers, baking the ginger bread and then decorating with sweets galore. Yes, it tasted as good as it looked!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Self-made Elf-Maid

Here's me making an elfin eejit of myself to wish you all a very merry Christmas!
Nollag Shona!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Solstice Sunrise

Here is the solstice sun rising over the Irish Sea this morning, posted by my friend, Dave. Happy Solstice to all you pagans, neo-pagans, New Agers, old hippies, new hippies and the like! And thanks Dave for a fabulous video.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm Dreaming of A ...

My big bro' sent me this pic of his car in Toronto. YES I DO MISS THE SNOW! Some of you will remember the pic of me making a snow-woman in the Murcia mountains last Christmas. (The very next week, I was paddling in the Mediterranean on a beach in Alicante only two hours away!) I am truly hoping and dreaming that I will be posting a pic of me in the snow around Finn's Dad's eco-fort in Sligo where we are celebrating the Great Feast. And for those of you who didn't look the last time here is the chieftain's eco-rath:

Saturday, December 15, 2007


You know when you get to that point in the Christmas season where ... ?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hectic hectic

Little time to blog these days as I dash about for Christmas and work feverishly on the new website design. My main job is gathering information for Terry and approving what he does (i.e. making suggestions and changing my mind and generally driving the poor man mad). But it is shaping up beautifully. I love it already! My hope and dream is to have it up before I head off for my holidays. Meanwhile, here's a little pic of snowy Wicklow. Last year, not this, but you never know.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Writer's Nightmare

Well I finally caved and bought a mobile, i.e. cell phone to you North Americans; chiefly to stay in touch with Finn when away. In truth, I loathe the things, most specifically because of their direct influence on the war in the Congo. (Google the subject and you will find the truth. Also National Geographic did a big piece on this, so I am not just talking leftie politics.) Along with that, they are a destroyer of social interaction and good manners. I can't believe the number of people who cut off a conversation to answer their phones. That said, I now have one. So, the other day I was texting Finn and I pressed the wrong button somehow and next minute my phone goes into predictive text mode, of which I know NOTHING. Here's how it went:
Text from me: Hiddelllss bacon mphff......
Finn reply: Momma that you?
Text from me: Hna bmrnt lab.
Finn reply: What????
Then I discovered a way to edit a word.
Text from me: Abtme frrrt help predictive mnofp....
Finn reply: Ha ha will fix when home xxx
It was a writer's nightmare. Sucked into alphabetical quicksand. Drowning in my own syllables. Communication wipe-out. Totally weird. And hilarious.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Great Kitty Song

Okay, I can't not post this. He's so cute. And so is the kitten.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Oh my beloved country!

Here's a mad dash through Eire on a púca (fairy horse). The music is the Bothy Band playing "Garráin Ghlasa na hEireann", the Green Groves of Ireland.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Maya Lila

Friday saw me at the Dancehall in Talbot Street for the launch of Joan Davis's two books, CD, and DVD of "Maya Lila" (loosely translated from Sanskrit as "illusion" and "play"). Together they document and celebrate her research, art, and work "bringing authentic movement into performance." Joan Davis holds iconic status here as the woman who single-handedly brought contemporary dance to Ireland. Now she is pioneering this incredible new work which involves breaking down the barriers between dancer/performer and audience/witness. I've been fortunate - and honoured - to take part in this work as a member of the witnessing audience of many "offerings" at Joan's beautiful centre on the side of Bray Head, also as someone who participated in workshops on authentic movement for my own delight and experience, and finally as a writer who gave input into the practice of adding words to movement. (Over the years Joan slowly added objects, sound, music, and words). At the launch, slide images of the performances were projected onto walls and ceiling, while sounds and music reverberated throughout the gallery. There was also an installation of a tree with animal skulls and various objects used in the performances. True to Joan's form, we were not passive observers in attendance. Tiny flashlights were left throughout the room to allow us to peruse the books despite the dim light. Eventually we were drawn into circles around hosts who were dressed in white ponchos, and we were invited to discuss the work and to write comments on the cloth. Finally, after short speeches and long drawn-out applause for Joan - she deserved it! - we were given carrot soup with fresh coriander and cream along with pastries stuffed with goat's cheese and roasted vegetables. This, too, was typical of Joan as delicious food is always served at her offerings. She is goddess, earth mother, artiste, shaman, and Isadora Duncan all wrapped up into one!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wintry Work Day

Finn is in the kitchen working on her Leaving Cert art project. I just cleared and washed a set of bookshelves and hacked a woodworm-ridden skirting board off the wall. The wall will have to be plastered and painted in a day or two when it dries out. I'm supposed to go to a dinner and dance tonight but, you know, I have a feeling that I am going to keep on pottering through the day. There are all these little jobs I want to have done before the Christmas (there, I've said it) preparations begin. Here's a feather amidst autumn leaves on a woodland path in Dunderry. I'm using the photo for my screen wallpaper at the moment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Back to the Gym

Finn and I headed off this evening to the big public gym at Loughlinstown. We spent a good three hours there including sauna and showers. I really like it, but I think it might have been a bit proletarian for milady. She prefers a private membership in the Royal Hotel's gym with swimming pool, lawdy-dah. (Guess what she's getting for Christmas.) But me, I like the idea that I can come and go when I please for a fiver and not be pressured by the question of whether or not I am using the gym enough to warrant the hefty fee! Different strokes, I guess.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cats and Dogs

Canadian cats are not as vicious as Irish ones. Go figure. I guess the aggression has been bred out of them. My friend in Toronto who has cats lets them outdoors and they don't come home beaten up (like poor Emma, who recently got clawed down her back as she tried to run away from some brute) or dead (like poor Hamish). My brother brought his cat - along with their dog, Moose - to Canada when he and his family returned after twenty years here. So the Irish cat has not only whupped all the cats in their neighbourhood into abject submission, but also the raccoons! (She probably considers them a breed of wonky-looking Canadian felines.) They should rename her Maeve, after the warrior-queen, or Grania, after the pirate. Meanwhile, Moose still looks up at the sky whenever an airplane goes by. A lot more goes on inside our pets' heads than we can imagine.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

For Cat Lovers

This is a dotey little animated short my buddy Dave sent me, created by English artist Simon Tofield. No cat lover could resist it. Meanwhile, have to report I am still utterly off time zone. I'm getting things done but I am awake till all hours of the morning and can hardly drag myself out of bed at a decent time. Haven't even had my breakfast yet today. Sigh. Anyone got a natural remedy?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yeah ...

Still jet-lagged and not sleeping. See below.


I was just reading one of my favourite bloggers - Paddy K in Sweden - and discovered that he no longer watches television. Many of his readers commented to say the same and I had to get in there and add my two cent worth (no 's' on euro cent). I disconnected our NTL cable several months ago when that company decided to charge an extra 2 euro to all customers who refused to sign up for direct debit. That kind of corporate blackmail just pissed me right off and I told them where to shove etc After the first two days of severe withdrawal, Finn and I are doing just fine. But NTL are not. They have been sending me increasingly hysterical letters asking about service problems, offering package deals, inquiring if I need anything. I have taken to sending back these regular letters with notes on the envelope, e.g. "Not Interested." "I have a life." "No longer a zombie." "Join the rebellion!" "Free Your Mind."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jet Lagged!

Well it's just 4:00 in the morning and I am bug-eyed. Can't sleep. Arrived home yesterday at 5:00 a.m. and spent most of the day lolling about, hoping I would be back on schedule today. Nope. Firstly, must say the Aer Lingus flight across the ocean was, as always, like a magic carpet ride. Utterly smooth and comfy. Irish pilots rock. Here are the highlights of my trip in no particular order:
1) Fun with my CANSCAIP peers
2) Fun with my siblings - met the two artist sisters together, then the manager sister for lunch, then the two brothers in the east end for dinner
3) Fun with my dearest friend who put me up in her house on Brunswick Avenue (setting for Dana's house in The Book of Dreams)
4) Fun meeting a certain Canadian filmmaker/producer for coffee and chat (watch this space)
5) Fun meeting old friends, including an old boyfriend who's still a cutey-patootie.
Yes, indeed, it was fun all round.
Now I really must get back to work. Soon as the jet lag eases off.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In Toronto's Fair City

Enjoying crisp sunshine, multicoloured autumn leaves, eggs florentine, schmoozing with my peers (CANSCAIP supper last night at Sharon Jennings' house). Tomorrow the conference at Victoria College, then visits with family and friends. Pics to follow when I get back home! This is coming live to you from a library at Spadina and Bloor. Now heading over to the Native Centre to buy jewellery and Christmas cards.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hee hee hee

Flying off to Canada tomorrow on my silver broomstick. Happy Hallowe'en!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Dunderry

Here are some more pics of the magical place where I attended a course in advanced shamanism last week. (Did a basic workshop and four modules back in 2000 and 2001. They influenced both The Light-Bearer's Daughter and The Book of Dreams.) The cairn - which looks like a hobbit house! - was built on site to hold drumming ceremonies inside. The holly gate led me down a woodland path where shafts of morning light fell through the trees. For Dunderry's own website see:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Corporate Carry On

Wow, they've arrested the 26 year old guy who ran the TV-Links UK, which allowed you to link up to shows and movies available on the Internet. Interestingly enough, the British authorities -acting on behalf of FACT, the entertainment industry watch-dog ("we've got billionaires to protect") - have not raided offices or arrested personnel of those who actually provide the material, i.e. Youtube, google, etc. They're too powerful to touch! Check out the story by searching TV-Links UK and sign the petition.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Conclusion of Rat's Tale

Another small rat under the sofa last night. Dead. Pats on the head to Emma for being a great ratter and consternation about the house being a holiday hotel for vermin. Today, the mystery solved. In from outdoors comes Emma with another rat which she has been play-hunting all day. It's now under my book shelves and she can't get at it. I'm not helping her. I am seriously pissed off. Once this one is caught and dead, the cat door is being shut for good. New homeland security sitch. Emma does not get in unless she is proven rat-free. And where have I been all week? Away in the country doing research and having a ball! Pics to follow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie

Finn and I have been watching a great sitcom on the Internet TV Links about the Muslim community in a small town in the Canadian west. It is indeed called "Little Mosque on the Prairie"! And it is hilarious viewing. I love all the characters, especially the arch-conservative Baber (on the far right beside the gorgeous young imam). He has some of the best lines. When they are arguing over when to start Ramadan, someone mentions how they determine moon rise in Saudi Arabia and Baber says, "the Saudis couldn't find the moon unless it had oil spurting out of it." And while some would say this show goes a long way towards de-demonizing Muslims and introducing them to those who know nothing about them, I've got to tell you Finn and I are watching it because it's really funny and quite endearing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Harry Potter Fun

Potter Puppet Pals in "The Mysterious Ticking Noise"

This is hilarious fun for all you Potter fans. Finn found it on Youtube. (Click on phrase.)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Good Morning, Sunshine!

New routines and order have descended upon the household as I fall into step with Finn's school schedule. She's attending the Insitute for Education in Dublin (posh prep school, her Dad and I are beggared) and she must be at the train station by the crack of dawn. Ho hum. After I drop her off, I do a brisk walk by the sea and sometimes join a gentleman from the Czech Republic for Tai Chi on the lawn before the promenade, as the sun rises over the water. (He's not always there, I don't even know his name, but we bow to each other and off we go.) Then it's back home for breakfast - fruit, toast, boiled egg, coffee - and it's to the computer to start work about 9:30 a.m. Well, that's a new me. Here's a pic of Bray Head from the promenade, a setting used for scenes in The Singing Stone and The Summer King. And I do believe I mention same in The Hunter's Moon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Photo

Check out the new profile photo with my black fedora which I bought from the famous Mr Rothman in Kensington Market, Toronto. Hmm. I think I look like the wicked witch of the West. Cackle. Cackle.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend Off

Spent the weekend in Jampa Ling, my favourite Buddhist Centre in Bawnboy, Co. Cavan. I love staying in the big Georgian house with its high ceilings, wooden shutters that close over the windows at night, wooden staircase, long carpeted corridors. My friend's baby was being blessed by the Rinpoche and there were lots of people there who brought food to share. The desserts were stunning - chocolate biscuit cake, chocolate cream cake, a really moist apple cinnamon tart with cinnamon sticks on top, an apple pie with puff pastry swirls, and thick slices of curranty bread slathered with butter, perfect for this time of year with a cup of hot milky tea. Had a little chat with the gardener whose family adopted Bruce. Eddie told me that Bruce follows everyone around the house and sometimes after he has had his dinner, he jumps into his bed (in the kitchen) and rolls around and makes the funniest noises. My heart nearly burst when I heard that. I can just imagine the once-lonely dog thinking to himself, "I can't believe my luck! Happy happy me!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Making the Harp on Tara

That's John Quigley whose vision we were following. He's either American or Canadian, judging by his accent. I couldn't find his nationality online. (Anyone know?) A lovely gentle man who somehow managed to get thousands of people to follow his instructions despite the fact he had a quiet voice and a faulty megaphone. The crowd included dogs, babies, children, and people of many nationalities. When we were all lying down, John said "sing something" and somehow everyone began to sing or hum the Irish national anthem in Irish and English. Very moving. My sister Rosemary had just arrived from Toronto the day before and she was there, representing the Irish-Canadian diaspora despite her jet-lag!

More Tara Pics

Meant to include a photo credit for the fabulous pic of the giant human harp below: Paula Geraghty. Feel free to use it but please acknowledge the photographer. Yes, that's me grinning away beside Stuart Townsend (couldn't resist). Once upon a time I dreamed that he would be Finvarra in the film version of The Hunter's Moon - anyone who has seen Queen of the Damned will understand. And there's me doing my bit as a piece of the harp.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Human Harp on Tara

Here it is. A work of pure art! The human harp formed on Tara under the guidance of aerial artist and environmentalist visionary, John Quigley. Estimates of how many people showed up vary between 1,500-3,000. Try clicking on the image to make it bigger so you can see the details. There are Celtic designs on the top and the side and there are red jewels along the curve - people in red jackets and sweaters which he organised at the last minute! It was so much fun. We had picnics, hung around the hill for ages, it drizzled, then the sun came out, and Stuart Townsend (photo to follow) and Jonathan Rhys Meyers showed up to add their gorgeous bodies to the count.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Call of the Harpers

In ancient days the harpers of Eire had great power and influence. Will they be heard in modern Ireland as they protest the motorway that is ploughing through the Tara Valley? It was a very moving day. Of course they played "The Harp That Once in Tara's Hall" by Thomas Moore and also many of O Carolan's tunes. Exquisite music. Look closely and you'll see the Green Man who attended the rally. The Irish government buildings are in the background, behind the wrought iron fence. And that's the gorgeous Stuart Townsend in the foreground, the Irish actor known from Queen of the Damned and All About Adam. He has been supporting this cause for three years now. I'll be posting pics of the human harp we formed on Tara Hill today - over 2,000 people! - so stay tuned.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Save Tara - USA

I've noted the two creative protests in the Save Tara campaign taking place here in Ireland this weekend but there are also events taking place in America at the same time - in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles - so check it out all you heritage-supporters across the pond! As always with things Irish, there will be music and uproar.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Harpers for Tara

I've written before about the heritage crisis we are suffering here in sell-your-Mother Ireland. The Irish government - including its Green Party partners - is insisting on running a motorway through the sacred valley of Tara. The World Monument Fund has put Tara on its 100 most endangered sites list. On Saturday, September 22, at 3:00 pm, the harpers of Ireland will gather at Dáil Eireann in Dublin to drown out the sound of cars and cash registers with the sound of music. Have a look at their site on myspace: And pass on the word! Shame, shame on the Fianna Fail government and the sell-out Green Party!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bruce and Me

In a final twist of the tale, it turns out that I was fostering Bruce until his real family came along. Amazing, though, how I went from talking to him over the fence for years, then jelly legs of fear when I first tried to walk him, then taking him for walks with others, then just him and me, then having him trot around after me like a big lamb. I ended up absolutely adoring him, but worrying about the fact I had to leave him for hours in the yard while I worked. Also I will be travelling all through October! Truth is, boxers need a lot of love and attention and I was beginning to wonder how I could manage him. Then I got a call from my Buddhist Centre telling me that the gardener - with a big house, huge garden, and six kids - wanted a dog and, in particular, a boxer! I took it as a sign from the gods and drove my dear lad up to County Cavan. Have to say, I cried all the way back and there have been a few blubberings since. But I rang to check how he was the first night I left him and he was watching television with the kids and being petted continually. I'll be up at the Centre in two weeks and will get all the details from the gardener, but I won't visit this soon in case I upset him. Once he's well settled, I'll drop in like a favourite auntie.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Baby Man

It's a cross between having a new love and a new baby, really. I think about him all the time and I'm exhausted looking after him. Last night was his first night in the house. He definitely caught my anxiety and was restless and making the weirdest coughing noises. But once I turned out the lights and settled down for the night, so did he. I could hear him snoring away in the kitchen. So far I have kept Bruce and Emma separate. I'm waiting for Finn to come home (surfing in Sligo before school starts next week) before we do a formal introduction in the same room at the same time. But they are both aware of each other, sniffing around places where the other has been and also through doors. This is all very new and exciting. Thank God I finished the book yesterday so I can concentrate on the living changes!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

New Man in My Life

In a strange twist of fate, the family I had for Bruce pulled out at the last minute. Devastated, I thrust aside my fear of large dogs and took him for a walk with his former owner's granddaughter. Then I walked him the next day with Finn. And the day after that with my brother-in-law. And last night and this morning, alone. Guess what. Yes, you can see it coming, can't you. From being afraid of big dogs I am suddenly the proud owner of a fine big boxer. The Lonely Dog will be lonely no more. Lordy, I must be mad. But I have quite fallen in love with him and he follows me around like a puppy. (A giant puppy.) Being a cat-woman, I don't know anything about dogs, let alone big ones, so I have been reading up on boxers on the Internet. I was right to be distressed that he was alone so often. Boxers are extremely sociable and hate being left alone. I will have to ease him in slowly and get him and Emma to bond. Will also be counting on the advice of a good friend who has a big dog. (You know who you are.) What have I got myself into???!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Over the Moon

I found the Lonely Dog a home! Today is his last day alone in the yard. He won't need me hanging over the fence chatting to him or throwing in treats. His new family have already rescued a big Labrador and they have reared two boxers who lived long and happy lives. They also have an acre of land and kids who love dogs, so he will get lots of love and attention and play and space. It will all be very strange for him at first but I am sure he will adjust. Plus they've promised they will let me know how he settles. Now, back to work. The Book of Dreams will be out of the house by next week - yahoo!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Work and Play

Fairly pleased with myself these days as I seem to be managing a decent balance between work and play. This weekend saw the new Harry Potter movie with Tony. (Love driving around in his Merc convertible even though it gives me Bridget Jones hair. Real posh.) Contrary to Finn's opinion - "crap" - I thought the film was brilliant. I loved the way the two different kinds of wizards were shown in swirls of black dust and white dust. Then Sunday, headed up Lugnaquillia, the highest peak in the Wicklow Mountains range, with my hillwalking gang. It is, of course, a major setting in The Light-Bearer's Daughter, so shoot over to my Book Blog for the series of photos taken up there. I do believe I am getting the hang of my digital camera, though truth to tell, I just point and click. I usually can't see a thing in the viewfinder. Here's a fairy tree and a huge puddle of water, more like a small lake, which we passed on our way up.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Firewalk Pics

Here's me walking towards my transformation, new work, and new life. With Kathleen, who is about to direct her first film, I walked for creative inspiration and courage. When it was time to walk for someone else, I walked for protection for Findabhair, my surfer daughter, as she surfs the waves of life. Don't be fooled by the grey colour which is caused by the flash. That path was sparkling red and sparking! But I didn't get a single "kiss" this time, from the embers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Firewalk II

Yes, we were at it again, up in the Wicklow Mountains. Glen and Sherron facilitated as before. Here's the part where we pour oil over the wood, thinking of all the old stuff we want to burn away. Then the structure is set ablaze as we drum, dance, chant, chat, and think about what we want to "walk toward" as we cross the fire-path. When the structure collapses, Glen rakes the path and tamps it down with a shovel. And when he declares the firewalk open, we go!

Monday, August 13, 2007

King Rat

Okay, this one I don't feel bad about at all. Came into the living room this morning and found a BIG dead rat lying on the mat, thanks to the cat. No messing this time. Emma has redeemed herself. (Pat the cat for the rat on the mat.) And, no, it isn't a question of hygiene, excuse you, but the fact that these houses were built on a bog and all the rain is flushing everything up. Didn't call in The Men Friends this time, but woke up the Sleeping Teenager who is not as freaked out about such things. (That's my girl.) No complaints from her, since she owes me big time for shipping her off on a Spanish holiday tomorrow while I continue to work on my deadlines.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bad Karma

I have the life of a small rat on my conscience. First Emma trapped it in the corner of the futon-sofa last night. I shut the door of the living room and left her to it as that seemed okay in the circle-of-life view of things. However, after a night of terror no doubt, the pur but clever cratur was still there this morning, jammed inside the wood frame and out of the cat's reach. Albeit guiltily, I stepped into the breach and hauled off the mattress part of the futon, screeching the whole time. (What is it with women and rodents? I mean, seriously, it's just automatic. Get on the chair and scream.) Anyway, bloody Emma, can she just kill it neatly and cleanly? No, she has to piss around and torture it playfully. (Don't get me started on the casual cruelty of life on this planet.) I could hear the shrieks in the kitchen where I was safely ensconsed on the chair. Next minute, silence. I check the scene. No dead rat. But a nonplussed dopey cat is staring at the radiator. Yes, the rat was jammed in behind it, once again out of reach. Time to call in the cavalry, i.e. The Men Friends. They can't come for over an hour, so I tell the rat - "this is your chance. The cat's upstairs. Here's a bit of cheese. The front door's open. You've got one hour to scarper." Alas, poor Yorick doesn't take the bait. The Men arrive with gloves, flashlight, and a horrible pincer thing. In bits, I hear the last death cries, thinking of Reechipeep. "Here, look at it," says one of the men in true man fashion. I knew I had to. I was responsible. A little body of fur and blood. I guess you have to be tough to live here, but I dream of a gentler place.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Brain Food

I'm re-reading Stan and Christina Grof's The Stormy Search for the Self. Dr Stanislav Grof was a pioneer in the study of LSD therapy, particularly its use with psychotic patients and those with terminal illnesses. He began his medical studies as an atheistic Marxist materialist and ended up - through clinical experiment, his own experiences in the laboratory, and his scientific practice - believing in a Divine presence in the universe and a mystical worldview. (That's some schlepp.) It's interesting that many of his case studies seemed to point to past life experience. I had a fascinating discussion on this subject with a writer friend earlier this week. We began talking about genetics and the amazing amount of information - not to mention the amazing kind of information - that is apparently being passed on through the genes, not only physical attributes but talents, dispositions, tendencies, passions etc. Michael suggested that past-life memories - and, indeed, any evidence of reincarnation - is, in fact, genetic memory. This reminded me of Sri Aurobindo's proposition that the next step in the evolution of humankind is cellular consciousness; the "Work" which the Mother and her pupil, Satprem, engaged in. Here's another thought. Is this what the Buddha knew? Is this what "awakening" is? Full and conscious access to what is encoded in our genes, i.e. all the knowledge and experience of life, the universe, and everything? I feel a shamanic novel coming on ...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Only in Ireland

Was at a barbecue birthday party last night in the mountains. Fabulous food cooked by Kathleen included butternut squash oiled and baked in the oven and served with olives and fromage frais, roast potatoes, yams, and stuffed vine leaves. The meat side, tended by John outdoors, included spare ribs, chicken, and beef sausage. Yes, this vegetarian bit the dust yet again. The rain held off till about 9:00 p.m. but when it arrived we just took out umbrellas and continued to sit around the bonfire till all hours of the morning. Every once in a while someone would say, "it's actually a grand night except for the rain."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Girl Pirates Ahoy!

Have a look at a new website set up by an enterprising and talented group of young women writers/actors/directors/performers, some of whom I have known since they were babbies: I am hoping this play will come to the east coast of Ireland. It looks truly exciting. And what a life those two real-life pirate women led!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ferris Wheeeeeeel

Yes, I went on the Ferris Wheel that has been set up on the side of Bray Head! Even though I have a morbid fear of heights. You look over the sea, the town, and the mountains, depending on where the wheel is at the time. I have a picture of me clutching the railings of the little thingie we sat in. (Wish I was a writer and had a facility with words.) Not sure if I will post the pic, though. I look pretty woof.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Little 'Pome'

By Spike Milligan

Last night in the twilight gloom,
A butterly flew into my room,
Full of beauty, full of grace,
Much better than aliens from Outer Space.

He also wrote one of the funniest books I have ever read, about the drawing of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It's called Puckoon. An utter scream.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Faerie Music

Here's what I want to learn to play next, after a year devoted to the drum kit. And maybe after the hammered dulcimer, the wired string harp. But this is like Faerie music, isn't it? And her gown too!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter Trauma

It's not looking good. Finn disappeared into her room much earlier today and only came out for meals. First sign of real trouble: a brief foray to the fridge for the organic chocolate hazelnut spread. "I need it," she mumbled, heading back upstairs with jar and spoon. An hour later, she is almost finished. The book, not the jar. Well, maybe the jar too. But now a box of tissues has gone in there and I can hear muffled sounds and nose blowing. This can only mean one thing. I am going to be a basket case. She is much tougher than me emotionally and - more importantly - she has always been good at separating fictional characters from real people. I am going to be a basket case.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Different Drummer

Keep meaning to post that my drumming lessons are going well. My new teacher, a jazz drummer, is brilliant as he goes step by step and you learn to read music. Early lessons concentrated on the snare drum and reading/playing quarter, eighth, and 16th notes with rests and accents. Now we have moved on to the kit, using high-hat, bass drum, and snare. I practise 20-30 minutes a day. What's my dream here? That's for another day, but it has something to do with Yellowknife, a cowboy hat, and a smoky bar.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


It was BRILLIANT! I thought I was going to have a heart attack I was so thrilled. Sherron and I shouted our delight, louder than the kids. Fireworks are so magical - exploding in the sky, embroidering the night with colour and light and noisy beauty. Oh!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fireworks and Fiddling

I'm fiddling around here as I wait for darkness to fall before joining friends down on the sea front for the fireworks display. I LOVE fireworks. They excite my very soul. Will see if I can get a pic with my new digital. The Bray Summer Festival is on and there is a fair on the promenade, a giant ferris wheel (yes, I'm thinking about it, omigod), and music on the bandstand. Oh, do pop over to my Book Blog and see the fabulous trailer another of my readers has made. This one is for The Hunter's Moon. Ah, such dreams to dream upon. I really would love to see my books as films.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Okay, it just has to be said. It has been raining non-stop since May. Even by Irish standards, this is DIABOLICAL. The entire country is ready to jump off the Cliffs of Moher. It's like living on Ferenginar. (The Ferengi home planet for you non-Trekkies.) Yes, it means I am working like a Trojan and don't mind so much being stuck indoors, but still ... one does like to get out once in a while!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ode to Nova Scotia

Working away on The Book of Dreams and up to the chapter where I include a song by the late great Stan Rogers, my favourite Canadian singer and songwriter. His widow kindly allowed me to use the lyrics of Giant (about Fingal) in my book. I heard Stan sing it live in Toronto years ago at the Fiddler's Green folk club on Bloor Street. Knocked my socks off. Alas there is no video of him singing it on Youtube, but here is one of his songs and some great pics of Nova Scotia. I have set quite a few scenes on Cape Breton Island.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Save the High Queen's Rath!

Here is the latest national monument about to be destroyed by the M3 Motorway. Lismullen Rath was apparently the burial place of a powerful woman - the High Queen! - though, of course, they are calling her "a wealthy woman." (Patriarchal archaeology cannot conceive of female rulers despite oral and written tradition to the contrary.) The new Minister for the Environment is John Gormley of the Green Party, but alas it seems that, despite their earlier support for Tara, the Green Party is opting out in favour of political expediency. (That was quick, eh? No doubt about it, power corrupts.) But you can help. Go to and sign the petition. You needn't live in Ireland to want to protect its heritage!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Little Girl Giant

Here's a weird video my sister Dee sent to me. (Yeah, she's the Deirdre who appears in The Book of Dreams.)The song is great, too. Wonder what country this is? And is it the music that makes her seem strangely sad?

Friday, July 06, 2007

London Love

Not long back from London where I had a fabulous visit with dear friend Ger Aron (writer of hit play My Brilliant Divorce, performed by the equally brilliant Dawn French). We went to see Fiddler on the Roof which was utterly fabulous. Tell you all about that in another post, but if you are anywhere near the West End, it is a must-see! Here I am in Regents Park, hand in hand with my new love. But I fear he may have feet of clay...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Out with the Old

And today I tackled the junk drawer, clearing away all the rubbish and keeping only useful things like clothes brush, DIY tools, hair dryer and all the bits you have to keep in case you ever move your washing machine. I also scrubbed the drawer and lined it with green leafy shelf paper. Something's happening all right. This kind of activity - clearing drains, tossing junk - bodes well. I am cleaning up my act and making room for BIG THINGS to come.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Down the Drain

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Today, it was unclog-the-drains time. (Hmm.) That meant rubber gloves, plunger, bleach, and kettles of boiling water. Where does the black gucky stuff come from?! Anyway, they are all smelling like roses now, or should I say lavender, the bathroom sink and the bath and the kitchen sink as well. Along with that, I got cracking on The Book of Dreams and tomorrow I am being interviewed by Brian Tubridy for RTE Radio (brag brag), but the latter stuff belongs in Book Blog, so do pop over there for the rest of the story.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Into the Dreaming

Went walkabout into the Dreamtime yesterday. Magic. Set off with my trusty sidekick Dave for a solstice ritual being held at Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre in County Cavan. As we passed Tara Hill on our way north, we decided to stop in and give our regards to the High Kings of Ireland. No sooner were we walking the great circuit of the mounds than I heard the sound of a rattle ringing out through the air. "He's doing a shamanic ritual!" I said, though I had no idea to whom I was referring. Off I ran, down the next hill and there, around a fairy tree, was a circle of people; and leading invocations to the Mother Earth and the Sídhe was my own shamanic teacher, Martin Duffy, whom I hadn't seen in years. (You can check out his work on We stayed for the fairy blessings and then off we went to Jampa Ling for more magic. "Offering bath-puja" involved prayers in the shrine room with jugs of saffron water, mirrors, peacock feathers, green boughs, and silken scarves of blue and white. Then, in a long line following Des, who was blessing everything with holy water, we paraded out into the grounds, gardens, fields, and forest carrying sacred objects and sticks of incense while ringing bells, clanging cymbals, flashing mirrors, and chanting - om vajra sattva hum. Oh, and Damian was blowing on a huge conch. I swear, we looked and sounded like a fairy cavalcade.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New Life!

Utterly thrilling. Not long back from Dublin City, where I went to Hollis Street Maternity Hospital to meet my friend's new baby; a darling little boy with dark Tibetan eyes. Tashi delek, Sherab! Just wandering through the wards was a walk back through time and memories of the birth of my own beautiful Findabhair. I couldn't help but smile at all the new fathers, walking their babies in the halls, with such proud, abashed faces. And all the new mothers resting in their beds, smiling with satisfaction at the little cots beside them. Congratulations, I kept saying to them, how wonderful, how wonderful. In one room there was a cot with two fat babies in it. Oh my goodness, two! And the mother beamed happily. Yes, two! And we laughed. Dave was busily looking for our friend, but I wanted to see everybody's baby!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Green Party Party

My feet are sore from dancing all night at the Wicklow Arms in Delgany. Deirdre de Burca held a dance for her supporters and to celebrate the fact that the Green Party is going into government for the first time in Irish history. Now it's a dicey proposition. They are in bed with the devil, the casually corrupt Fianna Fail party which has ruled here forever, but which didn't achieve a majority in the last election. As with all small parties going into coalition, the Greens will suffer for this when Fianna Fail won't. On the other hand, however, it's incredible that such a young and radical party could actually get that close to the power core. The experience will be good for them. Let's just hope they won't have to pay too dearly for it!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Summer King (Trailer, Fan Made, Remastered)

My intrepid fan has remade her trailer for The Summer King. It's even better than the first one. Have a look!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Back to the Source

If there's one thing a Sagittarian has to do regularly it's climb a mountain. So here's me on Mullaghcor, yesterday. It was a gorgeous sunny day and a gang of us from the Second Sunday hillwalking group headed out on a Saturday for a change, to accomodate two Swedish lads. There was a picnic as always on the grassy hillside - sandwiches, tea in a thermos, oranges, strawberries, dark chocolate, and crisps. At one point I walked alone (as is my wont) and inhaled the green of pine and blue of sky, to take back with me to infuse my work. There are times when I fall from Grace and into the dark and it is these communings with Nature that re-connect me to the Source and the shining stream of life (Mythopoeic writers use a lot of capitals, don't we? I guess because we like to write about the Big Things. )

Thursday, June 07, 2007

To a Different Drum

Jaze, have to laugh at that last post. Spot the love-lorn author. But here's my good news. I have found myself a new drumming teacher, hurrah! He's got a jazz background which is perfect, as that is my real interest, and I can't wait to start. Need to dust off the drum kit and practise before my first lesson. It's been wayyyyy too long.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Snowy White - Bird Of Paradise

The video is utterly naff (check out those shoes) but God I love the song and that guitar. Came out in 1984, I think. I remember arriving in Ireland, lost and lonely, and my cousin Donal playing it for me.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Once and Future

It's typical of my family that one of my sisters would have a big stone in her back yard which managed to acquire a sword. All of us have always spoken of "Wart" in an intimate manner. One time someone asked if he was a relation or family friend. "Nope. He's King Arthur." I am just back from the sunny west of County Clare where I was celebrating a friend's 50th birthday and the opening of his exhibition. He sold 15 paintings in the first night. Well done, Frank Golden. Then we all retired to Linnane's for a big spread of clams, crabs, mussels, and shrimp along with singing and dancing. The craic was ninety. Next morning was a huge breakfast outdoors in the sunshine (it was lashing on the east coast; God forgive us, we laughed) and a guest hike along the Flaggy Shore. Then another feast in the evening. I will post photographs as soon as I figure out how to get them out of my new camera and onto the computer. Finn is surfing in Sligo, so no help at all.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Full Moon

Two new women joined us at the bonfire last night. Our circle grows bigger and stronger. We drummed and journeyed and danced and chatted. As I drove back home over the mountains, with the great moon overhead, chased by the mist brewing in the fields and streaming over the road, I reflected on my life. May was a month of loss for me and I was glad to bid it farewell in a sacred way. Now I turn my face to June, to the summer and the sunshine. There's work to be done, but also fun to be had.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Not long back from Annaghmakerrig where I got everything done that I went to do (hurrah). Must get cracking and finish the Pullman paper due June 15. But of course I took the day off yesterday for a drumming workshop with John Bowker, held at the Chrysalis Centre in the Wicklow Mountains: The workshop was a gift from a friend who couldn't make it as she was ill and I have to say I benefited from her misfortune! In a group of 26 men and women, we began with basic rhythms and moved on to more complicated ones, i.e. African healing riffs. Fabulous. As the day progressed, we went outdoors into the sunshine and I ended up on the bass drums, using sticks, wearing my sunglasses. Spot the daughter of the jazz musician. Yeah man, I got into the groove.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

First pictures!

I am posting the first pics I have taken with my new digital camera. Still figuring out the ins and outs, but I love it! Here is the big house of Owen Doon - with prayer flags flying - which is the heart of the Buddhist Centre of Jampa Ling near Bawnboy in County Cavan. I made a flying visit there recently with friends. On my Book Blog you will find a pic of bluebells in the woods not far from the house. I have some more pics of the walled garden and a stone Buddha and will post them soon. Meanwhile, here's the website of Jampa Ling: People of all spiritual interests and backgrounds are welcome there.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

For Hamish

Here's a poem my friend Dave wrote for Hamish. (It is the role of the poet to say the things we cannot say ourselves, but need and want to say.)

When I tut-tutted your mischiefs,
I told you I missed you.
When you bothered your sister,
And I complained,
I told you I missed you.
When I laughed at your crooked affection,
I told you I missed you.
When I told you and told you and told you,
Those times too,
I told you I missed you.
Now you have gone,
And yet you have never been so present,
And I tell you,
I love you.

Poem by Dave Murphy,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Broken Heart

I haven't been able to blog for ages as I have been grieving the death of my own dear cat, Hamish. It was only days after the little black cat died. Hamish wasn't killed by a dog, however, but died as he lived - fighting another cat. My neighbour told me about it later. Because the row happened around a car, Hamish ended up with a chest wound from some sharp piece of metal. Poor Finn found him on the pavement as she left for school, then called for me. It is a terrible thing to discover your beloved pet dead and tattered on the ground. But he was an outdoors cat and would never have accepted a life cooped up inside. We have buried him in the back garden with stones and sea shells on his grave. His sister, Emma, sits there from time to time and then looks at me as if to say, "is he coming back?" I've wept my heart out for him. Alas, this was one fight I didn't wake to save him from. His time had come. I loved that big, handsome, troublesome, bad-tempered, manky, and affectionate cat and I will never forget him.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Little Black Cat

I am still recovering from the trauma of trying to rescue a poor little cat that was being savaged by a huge boxer with a spiked collar. I woke at 1:00 a.m. yesterday morning to the sound of screams. I thought it was two cats fighting - I am always rescuing my Hamish from fights, at this point I am "the crazy cat lady of Wolfe Tone Square" - so I pulled on a coat and ran out of the house in my pjs. Next minute I see this huge dog mauling a poor wee black cat, hardly more than a kitten. Without thinking, I ran over and screamed wildly at the dog until it let go of the cat who dragged itself away. (Lordy, only later did it occur to me that the dog could have gone for me and I didn't have a stick or broom or anything!) Alas, I didn't find the cat till the next morning and when I got it to the vet I was told it couldn't survive its horrific injuries and had to be put to sleep. I wept buckets thinking how cruel life is for so many animals and, of course, people too. A beautiful world, but hard also.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Eve

Here's Kath and me with the May bonfire behind us before our fire-walk last night. (See pic on Book Blog.) It was a magical evening. We drummed for ages until the fire collapsed. Glen, our fire-walker man, raked out the embers and tamped them down with a shovel. By then it was night-time. The full moon hung in the sky over the dim fields and the mat of fire glowed like red jewels. A wall of smoke and flame rose on either side. One by one, and then in pairs, we strode across the fiery ground and into our futures.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sparta Abú

I can't wait to see the movie about the 300 at Thermopylae. Finn calls it "violence for intelligent people." But I first read stories about King Leonidas and his amazing last stand when I was a child. My local library had a whole shelf of historical fiction set in classical Greece - not sure if by different authors or not - including stories about a young woman who became the Pythia or priestess of Apollo (the one who foretold the Greek victory of the Battle of Salamis), growing up in Sparta, a boy who sacrificed his life to Artemis and so on. This is what I think is incredible: Leonidas and his men believed that they would die a glorious death and be remembered forever. And they were right. Because here we are, still talking about them in the 21st century!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Queen of Chaos

No, not Marge Piercy. Me. I just cannot get my act together. Toodling and bumbling all the way. Getting things done in minute increments: income tax, grant proposals, housework, finances, humdrum boring stuff. And not a tap of writing. The other day I decided to go AWOL. Stepped right out of my life and into a big fat novel. Didn't do a thing all day but read. Finished at 6:00 a.m. the next morning. This is the book. It is FABULOUS. Marge Piercy is fabulous. Set in a Jewish ghetto in 16th century Prague and a Jewish 'free town' (as opposed to the domed cities run by corporations) in 21st century post-global-warming North America, it presents a sweeping vision of the future along with a love story between a gorgeous cyborg/golem (who considers himself a Jew) and the woman who is helping him to blend into humanity. The only other book I have read of Piercy's is Woman on the Edge of Time, which is terrific also. I love that she can be lefty political and feminist while also telling a terrific story. The book makes you think big thoughts ... and yearn for your very own cyborg. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Total Gross Out

Omigod, I just totally grossed myself out. Watched a little youtube video about a female praying mantis eating the male alive right after they had mated. She started with his head. And I just had my supper! I can't believe I watched it. Right to the horrible end. He even tried to get away, headless, but she caught him. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. If you are like me and you just have to look follow the trail ... no, not of blood. I started by googling simondale because I was trying to find out why the link wasn't working from an earlier blog. (The site must be down.) Then I clicked on the Stumble Upon listing for simondale and got IMichaels who first posted simondale. He's the one who has the video on his blog list. Look, if you must. Shudder.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

On this gloriously sunny summery day, heading off to a family egg-hunt and lunch. Here are some lovely spring croci sent to me by Gertrude Mueller Nelson, a Jungian Christian wise-woman healer/writer I met at the Mythic Journeys conference last year. Her website is

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bag End

Look at this: A hobbit house in Wales. It's a bit like a friend of mine's house in Co. Monaghan which I will post photos of as soon as I take the pictures. This is only magic, though.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Moon Women

Fell into chaos the last few weeks and got nothing done (aside from workshops up North, see Book Blog.) Today was far too beautiful a day for working, all summery sunshine. Went into the mountains with my moon women friends and lit a fire and communed with Mother Earth. Magic. Then off to meet another friend at a small castle by the Roundwood Reservoir. Sat in the garden drinking tea. Now must clear my desk. Back to work tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Day to Celebrate! (Maybe)

History before our eyes. This is the first day of the rest of Northern Ireland's life as a democratic state that truly represents its people. Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and Ian Paisley of the DUP sat down together today to agree to a devolved government in which both parties (along with the other parties) will participate. Big sigh of relief. Big cheer. Big hmmm. Well, they've set a date. May 8. Only problem is - a lot can happen in Northern Irish politics over the course of a day, never mind 6 weeks. Still, we must be optimistic. The very fact that today happened is a miracle in itself. Neither side can backtrack now without losing face. There is hope for Ulster and the holy land of Ireland.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tom Bombadill and Goldberry

With Mass in Irish on the radio (A Thiarna, ár n-Athair), I headed off across the mountains this fine sunny day to visit my favourite fairy-man, Herbie Brennan of Faerie Wars, and his tree-woman wife, Jacquie. I didn't go by the ugly new motorway which would have been faster, but went via the holy vale of Glendalough and over the wild bogs of the Wicklow Gap. The leaves are not yet out on the trees or the hedgerows but the whin is in full bloom, a cloak of gold on the brown shoulders of the hills. What lifts the heart? It is the beauty of my country. Got lost at one point and arrived flustered and late to be welcomed by my hosts and the other guests. Then we all sat down to a feast, for Jacquie is not only a herbalist, painter, and crystal healer, but a gifted cook as well. We began with 'tapas' in the Spanish style - a warm mini pitta bread served with little kebabs of sausage and chicken, tapenade, fresh humous, a salad of herbs and greens, and feta cheese with brown and green olives. That could have been lunch in itself, but then came salmon poached with lemon and butter, floury potatoes, and organic broccoli, with a rich hollandaise sauce. And, ah, dessert: a delicious custard and fruit tart straight out of the oven accompanied by a big bowl of fresh strawberries, black currants, and cherries swimming in their juices. Was I able to go on to the cheese platter with crackers? Nope. But I managed one Belgian chocolate and a demitasse of brewed coffee. As we dined like lords and ladies, the conversation roamed over many a topic including the Great Famine, thinking in different languages, the banning of herbalists in France, the similarities between Lent and Ramadan, the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor, Whirling Dervishes, and the mysterious life of cats. Good food and good company: a thing to be praised!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Nothing is Sacred

The destruction of Tara has begun. Phase One of the motorway that will bulldoze through ancient sites and sever the heartland of this sacred landscape is underway. Megalithic chambers have already been destroyed, with state archaeologists assuring us "we have made meticulous records." So that's our heritage, is it? We've got an Interpretative Centre with photographs, who needs the real thing? They paved Paradise, put up a parking lot. This is modern Ireland at its worst: rampaging across the land in the name of progress and money and the speed of motor cars. Go to Sign the petition. Donate money. Show up for the vigils. The gombeen government is moving as fast as it can before World Heritage designation can protect more sites. And for godsakes, don't vote for the Fianna Fail or the PDs in the next election. Throw the lot of them out before there is nothing left for the generations to come but a wasteland! For what will it profit us if we gain the world and lose our very soul?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Little Fairy Girl - Joanna Newsom

(Here's a clearer version of this video.) She is so wyrd and wonderful! I first heard her singing a long winding tale about a monkey and a bear on the car radio. Back home, I ordered her two albums from the local music store and started sending out this video to everyone I know. And guess what. Even as I sent it to a musician friend of mine, he was on his way to my house with her first album, Ys! Magic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pleasing Porridge Please

Visited my friend Frank Golden (poet/novelist/painter) in County Clare last week and he made me the yummiest porridge imaginable. Serious silk purse out of sow's ear job. Mutton dressed as lamb. Well, whatever. Even Finn eats it for breakfast. Here's the recipe:
1) cook your oats - NO SALT
2) pop in a handful of raisins and/or some chopped apple (my addition) while cooking
3) roast a handful of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds - ALL THREE NEEDED
4) serve porridge with layer of seeds on top
5) drizzle with maple syrup or honey
6) add milk - soya/goat/cow - if you like.
No word of a lie, this is delicious.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Irish-Canadian Post

Trying to play catch-up today. Got a review to write, people coming for dinner, the house is a mess, the To Do lists are taking over my desk, and I'm behind in my work on The Book of Dreams thanks to losing my notated copy. Arghhh. Also, when trying to fix a Firefox error on the Book Blog (Spadina Bus video), I wound up losing the entire post. Sigh. Will do it again, later. Meanwhile, here's a pic of the badge being born by a Canadian girls rugby team which toured Ireland last week, from St Mary's High School in Cobourg. They creamed every Irish team they played around the country. I didn't know which side to cheer for. In keeping with the character of each nation, the Irish teams moaned about the Canadians being too rough (to their faces, it must said) while the Canadians apologised for winning. Ha ha.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dancing at the cafe - Bande a Part (AKA Band of Outsiders)


That ole French Je Ne Sais Quoi

Woo-hoo, I've finally figured out how to post videos on my blogs. Just put a great one on the Book Blog about the Spadina Bus, appropriate for The Book of Dreams, as it refers to a setting in the book. Here's a darling one from an old French film I am now dying to see. And I love the hat because I bought a black fedora the last time I was in Toronto - just before Christmas - from the inimitable and darling Mr Rotman on Spadina Avenue (hah!). He told me he sold the same hat to Anthony Quinn and Jack Palance, two actors I have adored since I was little. I've only worn it twice so far: once in Toronto and once to a dance here. I'll don it for my new author photo which will be posted soon. But must get these steps down before I wear it dancing again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Learning the Alphabet

Just finished my Tibetan homework. Here's some of it. There are 30 letters in the alphabet which are also root syllables with specific sounds and, in some cases, actual words, e.g. the letter-syllable nya means "fish", cha means "tea", and then there is the universal (or almost universal) ma which means "mother". Writing out the beautiful letters on music paper is like a form of meditation. But it also reminds me of painstakingly printing out my very first letters as a child in those big phonetic copybooks with pictures (loved them). I'm probably sticking out my tongue as I do the Tibetan letters. I began to learn this language seven years ago, but then my young teacher went off to India. (See Book Blog about her.) I've now added "Go to Dharamsala to study Tibetan" onto my list of adventures to embark upon when Findabhair no longer needs her mother around all the time. Learning new skills is important. It keeps the neurons firing and the synaptic connections forming. The brain, like the Muse, must be fed!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Under a Red Moon

Headed up to Dundalk on Saturday to attend a reading at Hughes & Hughes (see post on Book Blog). Afterwards we all retired to the big country house where the writer lived. After walks and talks in the walled garden, we stayed till evening and had a candlelight dinner at the long table in the dining room, with a fire burning in the great hearth. Later, we gathered outside under the branching trees, listening to the echo of a nearby river, to watch the lunar eclipse. I stood under frosty stars with a blanket wrapped around me. Everyone ohhh'ed and ahhh'ed as the great shadow of refracted light passed over the moon, slowly but surely turning it a pale fiery orange. We spoke of how our earliest ancestors would have viewed this with terror, for it surely looked as if the moon were dying. Yet their descendants, the megalith builders, would have known what was happening, as they recorded lunar events and built the stone monuments in line with them. Then a star fell out of the sky! And Dave Murphy played his black wood flute. And it was a wondrous thing to be alive.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dreams On Ice

Heard a great quote this week from Niko Kazantzakis, the amazing author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ. (He's the man who referred to life as "the whole catastrophe.") He said even on your death bed, you should be ready for a fresh start. That's me! But my hopes of a big change this year have, alas, been dashed. That post at the University of British Columbia on which I had my sights has been suspended due to the hiring freeze. Seems UBC invested all its money in buildings and neglected to budget for staff. Clever, eh?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eire Go Brách!

Omigod, the Irish rugby team just CREAMED the English team 46-13 in one of the most historical and emotive days in Irish sport history and Irish history itself. For the first time ever an English team was allowed into the hallowed grounds of Croke Park, the home of Gaelic football and hurley, and the scene of a civilian massacre by British soldiers in 1920. (The Hogan Stand is named after the hurley captain who died along with 13 spectators.) Some might say the ghosts of the murdered were with the lads today. It was a ROUT. There was a huge issue beforehand about God Save the Queen being sung at the game, but the Irish fans didn't bat an eye and clapped afterwards to show a welcoming spirit. Winners all round, it was a great day to be Irish.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cool Pic

This is a photo of me and the Duchess, my beloved Triumph Herald which shows up in all The Chronicles of Faerie books. Findabhair is asleep in her baby chair inside. We're on the western shore of Inch Island, one of the settings for The Hunter's Moon. At the time, we were living in an alternative community called Meitheal (the Irish word for a communal work party, like a "bee" in Canada. Yeah, I was a hippie, so what.) Ideally, this pic belongs in the Book Blog but I already posted there and this blog was looking abandoned.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha

Just back from a weekend of Buddhist teachings with a wonderful Tibetan lama, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche. He lives in a big country house that is also a retreat centre - Jampa Ling - in County Cavan. I've been going to this centre for 17 years now! Here's one of the best things I learned. Usually when I feel really happy, the happiness is tempered with guilt. I can't help thinking, 'how can I be happy when so many others aren't?' Rinpoche says if you are happy then expand that happiness out into the world for the benefit of all sentient beings. (And that, I must say, makes you feel even happier.) While I'm writing this, I am listening to an exquisite CD of Tibetan chants and prayers mingled with Celtic rhythms and a beautiful poem to White Tara in Irish. Is tusa mo mhathair. (You are my mother.) Tara was born of a tear from the eyes of the Buddha of Compassion to answer the suffering in the world. It is, of course, magical that her name is the same as the royal site of Tara, named after an ancient goddess of Ireland, Téa. The sacred songlines of the world interweave to make one true tapestry that underlies all. See: and also

Monday, February 05, 2007

Endangered Languages

Just finished Mark Abley's Spoken Here, the brilliant book on minority languages mentioned below. He is an amazing writer. (His comparison of English to Wal-mart truly made me shudder.) I have always believed that language not only reflects a people's way of thinking, but also informs it. Even a cursory study of Old and Middle Irish will call to mind James Joyce. It's not surprising that such a fluid and complex tongue would produce a race of people who revel in words and play with language - their own or their conqueror's - because their thought patterns spin and spiral. Here are two stunning verbs from the Boro language: gabkhron - to be afraid of witnessing an adventure. And onsra - to love for the last time. And here is a wonderful statement from Abley when speaking of the struggle to keep endangered languages alive. Their struggle, it should be clear by now, is part of a worldwide battle to prevent language annihilation. But even this larger battle - I ask forgiveness for the metaphor - may be part of a wider war, perhaps the central one of our time: the fight to sustain diversity on a planet where globalizing, assimilating, and eradicating occur on a massive scale.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunny Days, Frosty Nights

As I heat up the house on this frosty moonlit night, I want to post a gorgeous frosty photograph sent to me by William Todd Jones, centaur/Merlin-husband featured in some of last year's blogs. An unmentioned new year's resolution of mine is the purchase of two essential items this year:
1) laptop computer
2) digital camera.
There will be no stopping me.