Friday, October 28, 2011

Write on Wednesday: I thought I saw...

I'm joining Ink, Paper, Pen for Write on Wednesdays!  I'm a bit late this week, its already Friday.....

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 20 Write the words " I thought I saw" at the top of your page. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Don't take you pen off the page (or fingers off the keyboard). Stop only when the buzzer rings! Do this exercise over and over if you wish. Write beyond 5 minutes if you like, you can link it up as an extra post.
I thought I saw him on the train, in the mall, at the beach, walking through a crowd.  I thought I saw him everywhere back then.  They always looked like him, long and lean with dark hair that hung in its own peculiar way, lanky and spiky as if Adam Ant and Billy Idol had gone to the same hairdresser. I never realized so many people had that kind of hair.  I would see him in the distance, from the back, and my eyes would pop open.  I couldn’t think about anything or anyone until I had walked faster and caught up alongside to see who this was.

I don’t know why I allowed myself to search them out.  I knew, deep down, it wasn't going to be him.  But sometimes they would give me such a shock and I just had to know. It was always a disappointment. There was only one thing about them that looked the same – their hair from the back – their faces were not like his, their eyes were not like his and they didn’t smile like him either.  He had a great smile.

Up until last week, it had been a long time since I thought I saw him.  Time has moved on, there have been weddings and kids and divorces, life has been busy.  But last week I thought I saw him again.  The same lanky limbs, the same dark hair.  I was waiting on the platform and, out of curiosity, deliberately shifted to see his face.  I was surprised, this one looked a lot like him.

I stood on the platform and stared.  Time stood still.  I realized, with a jolt, that time had been standing still for nearly 20 years.  This stranger on the platform looked like the memory of someone I knew a long time ago. One stupid decision to ride on the back of a motorbike means my first love will always be 20 years old to me.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Sentence Fiction: Shenanigans

I'm joining 5 Sentence Fiction with Lillie McFerrin Writes today.

What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the inspiration word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just take your inspiration from that word. 

This week’s inspiration word is: SHENANIGANS

Tom Murphy, blonde and lean, sauntered around the corner of the stables, snapping his braces over his shoulders as he walked out of the sunshine.   His skin, warm and tanned and lightly sheened with moisture, stuck to the thin cotton of his shirt.

St. Cloud, his Lordship’s favourite ride, nuzzled Tom's neck as he began mucking out the stall.  Tom grinned and pushed the stallion’s head away, whistling to himself as he daydreamed about the long white lavender-scented legs of his Lordship’s favourite daughter.

Working nearby, old Peters leaned forward on his pitchfork and surveyed Tom thoughtfully with a raised eyebrow, ‘you’ll get yourself thrown out of this place if you keep up those shenanigans.’

Marie Antoinette - Magnifique!

I have always been drawn to the story of Marie Antoinette.  There is something both beautiful and tragic about her life and death.  This post is a pictorial look at her life and legacy.....

"Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna" was not French.  She was born in Austria in 1755, the youngest daughter of the Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia.  She was generally addressed as 'Madame Antoine' at the Austrian court.

Marie Antoinette came to France in 1770 as a 15 year old to marry the Dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste, later known as Louis XVI of France.   Louis-Auguste was unable to consummate the marriage for 7 years.

Marie Antoinette lived at Versaille, the centre of the French court, also the centre of fashion, music, wit, intrigue and scandal.  Back then, everything was big....the hair, the hats and the dresses....
Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine in October 1793, two weeks before her 38th birthday.  On the morning of her execution her hair was cut and she was dressed in a simple white muslin dress to be paraded through the streets of Paris.  The only words spoken at her execution were 'Monsieur, I beg your pardon' as she apologised to the executioner for stepping on his foot.  

One of the best biographies I have read about the life of Marie Antoinette is 'Marie Antoinette, The Journey' by Antonia Fraser.  It gives a fascinating insight into her marriage, her romances and court life at Versailles.
One of my favourite movies ever is Sofia Coppola's 2006 movie, "Marie Antoinette", starring Kirsten Dunst.  The decadence, lavishness and at times, silliness, of the period are perfectly captured by the sets and costumes in the movie.  It's a visual feast for the eyes with a modern twist to the telling.
Marie Antoinette died 5 years after the First Fleet arrived in Australia.  It's fair to imagine that the ships travelling between England and Botany Bay carried the news of her arrest and execution and it would have been talked about and discussed even here in the new colony.

Over 200 years later, the life of Marie Antoinette and the fashions of the court of Versaille, are still inspiring art and fashion today.  Vive` Marie!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Polly Dolly: Bridesmaid

I'm linking up with Danimezza for this week's Polly Dolly Polyvore challenge!

This week's inspiration is BRIDESMAID....

It's a summer garden wedding and Polly's simple but stylish tulip dress is made from recycled vintage fabric.  Our very modern bridesmaid wears her flowers in her hair and carries a velvet bow clutch instead.  And being a very practical girl, Polly has even bought along her ballet flats to dance away the afternoon.

Items in this set

Thankful Thursdays: One Life

What am I thankful for?

I am thankful to be alive.  I am thankful for this hard, crazy, higgledy piggledy, emotional, uphill climb and downhill run that is my life.  I am thankful for all the experiences I've had - even the horrible ones.

I am thankful for all the times I've laughed, all the times I've kissed my children, all the times I've looked out the window and smiled because its sunny.

I am thankful for the all the times I've cried in the shower, or sat with my head in my hands or been so angry I could cry with frustration (no-one ever got stronger by being happy all the time).

I am thankful for all the beautiful things and all the ugly things that are beautiful in their own way.

Life is the strangest thing.  There is nothing quite like it to find out what kind of a person you are - your strengths, your weaknesses, your motives, your belief systems, the lessons you've learned along the way.

I am thankful for every second of this life and when I am old and grey I will look back and think to myself 'wow! that was one hell of a ride!'

I'm joining Thankful Thursday with Kate Says Stuff.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Tempting Treats...

Fancy a little bit of crumpet?  Here are some yummy English actors to ogle (my favourite kind!).  Remember ladies, just because you are on a diet doesn't mean you can't look at the food :)

 Jonathon Rhys Meyers, ohhhh my!  Who is  your favourite?

for (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Write on Wednesday: Bring me sunshine in a cup

I'm joining Ink, Paper, Pen for Write on Wednesdays!

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 19 - Sunshine in a cup. Write the words of Emily Dickinson: "Bring me sunshine in a cup" at the top of your page. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Don't take you pen off the page (or fingers off the keyboard). Stop only when the buzzer rings! Do this exercise over and over if you wish. Write beyond 5 minutes if you like, you can link it up as an extra post.
photo taken by my cousin Rachel

Bring me sunshine in a cup, to linger on lazy afternoons drinking tea in my mother's summer house. We gently rock on wicker chairs, - my mother, sisters and I - the smell of roses hangs heavy in the air and the fat bees drone outside, dusted with pollen.  My fingers are stained with the juice of mulberries, my cheeks flushed with summer heat, the hair curls damply at my neck. I am drowsy and content to listen to idle gossip, tea cup warm in my hand.  Oh, bring me sunshine in a cup for I am far away from home.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Owls and Omens

Human beings are very strange creatures.  One of the reasons we are so different to the other species inhabiting our planet is our persistence in prescribing reason or motives to things which don't necessarily have a reason or motive.

People have been doing this for thousands of years. Take the Aztecs for example -  the crops are failing, why are the crops failing? the gods must be unhappy with us, oh dear, perhaps if we sacrificed a virgin....?  Or maybe, just maybe, the crops are failing because there's been a drought or a plague of locusts or whatever.  You know, sometimes shit just happens.  There's no reason for it, it's just is the way it is.

Now even though I know this to be true, last night I saw a large white owl sitting on the street sign across the road from me.  It was a very large, very white, Harry Potterish type of owl.  Not the kind of owl you would see every day (if indeed, you are even lucky enough to see owls every day).  It sat on the street sign, facing me, blinking slowly.

It had been a particularly traumatic and nasty day on top of a particularly traumatic and nasty weekend.  As I sat outside after the kids had gone to bed and saw this owl blinking at me, I thought to myself "Hmmm, maybe this owl is an omen?  Maybe this owl is a sign that things are going to better or change or something?"

Why do human beings look for signs and omens in things?  Do we really believe the universe is trying to tell us something?  Why, if I see a white owl sitting on a street sign, would I have any reason to think it means anything at all?

Perhaps it's because I've been pre-conditioned to think that way about owls....

According to this very interesting website -

'Since the time of the ancient Greeks owls have been hailed as symbols of intelligence, yet they also have been feared and seen as signs of evil or death'  The idea of "wise old owls" and owl messengers can be found in ancient Greece.  Athena was firstly the goddess of darkness and later of wisdom, arts and sciences.  The owl was sacred and associated with her.  The association of owls with witches is centuries old - dating to at least the medieval period (about 500 to 1500 CE).  In those days, people believed that the owls and other animals associated with witches were evil spirits in disguise.'

I come from a very traditional Celtic background with strong roots in England, Scotland and Ireland. Places where those kinds of beliefs and legends about owls are strongly perpetuated.

Even the literature I have read has reinforced the belief that owls are somehow 'supernatural' or 'messengers/omen bearers'.

As a child I read Alan Garner's folk-lore books 'The Wierdstone of Brisingamen' and 'The Moon of Gomrath' which feature owls as messengers.  Garner's fourth book 'The Owl Service' is based on the legend of the mythical Welsh figure of Blodeuwedd, a woman who is created from flowers by a Welsh wizard.  She betrays her husband Lleu, in favour of another, Gronw, and is turned into an owl as punishment for inducing Gronw to kill Lleu.  I have not read this book but it's obvious Alan Garner has a thing for owls.

Another 'owl' book which I have NEVER been able to get out of my mind is 'I Heard the Owl Call My Name' by Margaret Craven.  If you have not read this book, do yourself a favour and get hold of a copy.

In the story, a young Anglican priest who is dying (but unaware that he has not long to live) is sent to a Native Indian settlement in British Columbia as a missionary.  The native people believe that if you hear an owl call your name, death is imminent.  It is a simple but life changing story about life, death and mortality.  Again, in this book, the owl is the messenger.

And then we have JK Rowling's owls (Hedwig & co.), who act as a kind of postal service in the Harry Potter books.  JK Rowling studied both ancient Greek and Roman literature and no doubt this influenced her to make owls the messengers of wizards.

So there you have it, through literature I have been pre-conditioned to think of owls as messengers or bearers of tidings.  And not only that, I've been pre-conditioned to think owls as being wise, wiser somehow than all the other birds.  Wise enough to hang out with wizards.  Owls are in the know, obviously.

Not only am I pre-conditioned to think of owls as messengers, I am also pre-conditioned to think of WHITE owls in that way.  If I had seen a brown owl sitting on the street sign, I probably would have thought 'wow, there's an owl.'  But this was a big white owl.

For centuries, people have believed that albino or pure white animals held special powers - take the unicorn for example.  Pure white or albino animals are much rarer than non-albino animals.  And this makes them seem special.  But the reality is, genetically, an albino owl is pretty much the same as a brown one.  It thinks the same, it eats the same, it flies the same, its just a different colour.  It cannot do magic and it certainly doesn't deliver cute little envelopes with nice messages from wizards.

In the end, I think human beings look for omens and signs as a means of hope....and as a method of abdicating responsibility......

Why hope?  Well, when we badly want things to change for the better, we sometimes imagine or believe we see omens and signs that are a 'secret message' from the universe that things ARE going to be better and its just around the corner....this gives us hope that things will actually change.

Why abdicating responsibility?  Well, believing the universe is conspiring to turn events to our favour is really leaving it in someone else's hands, rather than creating our own fortune.....people can either sit around waiting for the universe to deal them a better hand (I've been guilty of this myself) or get up and deal our own hand.

I suppose I would secretly like to think the owl was some kind of sign.....that sort of druidic, supernatural, 'message from the universe' thing appeals to my whimsical nature.  But, my logical mind tells me it was just a white owl sitting on a sign post with no rhyme or reason other than to eat big juicy moths under the street light.

What do you think?  I'd love to know.
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