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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Blooming Heather and a Little Poetry

Blooming Heather Photograph by Robin Dalton




I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
~ Emily Dickinson



Today it rained

I thought of home
Of pictures
made with crayon

Of a house
with two windows
and one closed door

Of stick figures
one of a mommy
who is gone
one of a daddy
who never was

One of me
with a smile on my face
A dog and a cat
that were
merely a wish

Returning from the post box
on a this now foggy afternoon

I stopped to look at the blooms
on the heather growing
in my very unkempt borders

I forgot about homes,
families that never were
and thought about fragile
blooms on hardy heather
with a smile on my face.
~me

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force

Monday, 21 February 2011

Prayer by Carol Ann Duffy

Trees at Brownsea Island by Robin Dalton
Prayer

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims1 sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. 2 Grade I piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.


Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

~Carol Ann Duffy

How to Add the Good Reads Widget to Your Blogger Home Page

Photograph of Robin's birthday card sent by Libby by Robin Dalton


I have had some people ask me how to get the GoodReads widget on their blog, so I thought I would type up a post really quickly. Needless to say, this works for all widgets. Enjoy.

My apologies for boring those of you who already know this or couldn't care less...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Go to the My Books page on GoodReads
On the left is a menu
Click on Widgets
Highlight the displayed code, followed by Control C

Go to your Blog Page
Log In to your account
Click on Design (in the upper right hand corner just to the left of Log Out)
Click on Add Gadget
Scroll down to HTML/Java script
Click on the + sign
Type in the Title you want to show on your Blog page
i.e., What I'm Reading
Paste the code in the box ( Control V)
Save

It will place it at the top of your column
You will need to drag and drop it the location of your choice.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Miriam Stockley - Perfect day

March days return with their covert light

Climping, Sussex

March days return with their covert light

LXXXVIII From: ‘Cien sonetos de amor’


March days return with their covert light
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.


Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.


O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,


so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets.
~Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A St. Valentine's Day Celebration or a Really Good Sunday Meal with recipes

A photo of a photo of Robin and Gary on the Day of their wedding surrounded by other bits

We (myself and the Wonderspouse) celebrated Valentine's Day at home this year. We don't usually go out on Valentine's Day anyway, as that way madness lies. But we do try to do something afterwards. Unfortunately the 'age of austerity' has hit the Dalton household hard.

To be honest, the Wonderspouse is not a huge fan of Valentine's Day. He sees it as a fabricated holiday at best and at worst a reminder of too many holidays spent alone.  However, I recently read that our customs originated in Rome,

“when willing young maidens wrote their names on slips of papyrus, put them in a box, shook them up, and let young men pull out the names of their valentines. The young people then spent the day together as companions, and Gods and Goddesses only know what great adventure came of it all – romance, marriage, or just a day to remember. The names were equally matched by both sexes so nobody had to go home alone after the drawing.

Records in England go back to 1479 of girls writing letters to their valentines, when the custom of drawing names was no longer in use and youth simply sent letters to each other with their feelings expressed inside. In the 1880s , lace, hand painted satin, ornaments, birds, baskets, ribbons, and cupids were added to letters, and rhymes and perfume followed.” ~ from The Grandmother of Time: A Women's Book of Celebrations, Spells, and Sacred Objects for Every Month of the Year by Zsuzsanna E. Budapest

As for me... Well, I see it as a day that we, as a society, have, amazingly, managed to set aside to celebrate and pay homage to love. Not just romantic love, but love of humankind, the love of and for our children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, that strange lady who lives a little further down the block, etc. And just perhaps to set aside a moment to allow ourselves to hope, to believe, that all we really do need is Love (thank you, once again, to The Beatles).

So on Sunday we drank a little wine, cooked a fabulous meal, exchanged cards and just generally enjoyed each other's company.

Gary experimented and came up with the perfect au Gratin potatoes or cheesy Dauphinoise depending on your frame of reference and we both worked on one of our favourite Delia recipes for roasted salmon. We added a little bit of asparagus with butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It was a lovely meal. In fact, it was such a lovely meal that I have included the recipes:



Roasted Salmon Fillets with a Crusted Pecorino and Pesto Topping


This recipe, invented by my good friend Lin Cooper, started life under the grill, but now, in my attempt to more or less eliminate the grill, I'm happy to say that it cooks very happily and easily in a high oven.

One word of warning, though: it works much better with fresh pesto sauce from supermarkets than it does with the bottled kind.” ~ Delia Smith

I should warn you that we pretty much throw the recipe out the window when it comes to the amount of pesto sauce, cheese and breadcrumbs (we love pesto and cheese and use as much as is reasonably possible). ~ robin
 
Ingredients:

2 x 5-6 oz (150 – 175 g) salmon fillets, about ¾ inch (2 cm) thick, skinned
1 rounded tablespoon finely grated Pecorino cheese
2 level tablespoons of fresh pesto sauce
juice of ½ lemon
2 level tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C)


You will also need a baking tray measuring 10 x 14 inches (25.5 x 35 cm), covered in foil and lightly oiled (we use olive oil).


Method:

Begin by trimming the fillets if needed, and run your hand over the surface of the fish to check that there aren't any stray bones lurking. Now place the fish on the prepared baking tray and give each one a good squeeze of lemon juice and a seasoning of salt and pepper.

Next, give the pesto a good stir and measure 2 (or several) tablespoons into a small bowl, mix one-third of the breadcrumbs with it to form a paste and spread this over both fish fillets. Then, mix cheese with the remaining breadcrumbs and scatter this over the pesto. Finish off with the remaining cheese.

Now place the baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 10 (I usually end up cooking mine a little longer, but that probably has more to do with my oven and less to do with the actual recipe) minutes, by which time the top should be golden brown and crispy and the salmon just cooked and moist.


So simple to make and extraordinarily delicious.  Delia suggests serving it with steamed potatoes. We serve it with fresh asparagus and Gary's au Gratin Potatoes.

Gary has been working on this recipe for some time now. It's a combination of a recipe by Delia, Jamie, this incredibly interesting man from the Carolinas who has cooking videos on the web (Dave Can Cook) and, of course, his own expertise.


Gary's au Gratin Potatoes

Gary's au Gratin Potatoes

Ingredients:

6 Medium Potatoes (2 – 2.5 lbs) 1 kg.
200 g Gruyere Cheese grated
200 ml Double cream
200 ml Whole Milk
25 g / 1 oz unsalted butter
nutmeg
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion


Method:

Preheat oven to gas mark 2, 300°F / 150°C

Peel potatoes and parboil 10 – 15mins

Drain and cover with tea towel for 10mins, then slice 1/4” / ½ cm thick

Thinly slice onion

In a buttered baking dish layer potatoes followed by a layer of sliced onions and continue to top of baking dish

Combine milk, cream, garlic and nutmeg in a saucepan, stirring occasionally to simmer and then season with salt and pepper

Gradually add ½ the grated Gruyere into the sauce until it thickens

Pour cream sauce over the potatoes

Sprinkle rest of the cheese on the top

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until golden on top.

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.  ~Zora Neale Hurston

Wednesday 16 February 2011: Morning in the Park

Sadness flies on the wings of the morning and out of the heart of darkness comes the light. ~Jean Giraudoux

I used to love night best but the older I get the more treasures and hope and joy I find in mornings. ~Terri Guillemets

Today Dixie and I made it out the door before noon. The fact that we have had lovely sun today made it somewhat easier. Unfortunately, my broken foot appears to be getting a bit worse every day so it was not a particularly pleasant (huge understatement) walk for me but Dixie was so very grateful to have some 'ball time'.

It is still chilly and damp and muddy but I love the feeling of spring in the air. I love the wild crocuses popping up everywhere. I have even seen a couple of daffodils. I always have a difficult time deciding which season is my favourite. I do know that winter is my least favourite, as anyone who knows me will attest to. This current just-before-spring time seems so full of possiblity and promise. If my injured foot would allow me I would dance to the barely heard sound of flowers bursting through the wet, cold ground, for there is no prettier sound.

I can almost feel Winter
and her special friendship
with Death fading.
Her darkness
slowly lightening
to misty grays.
Lavender
cannot be far behind.

At times

when I am lucky
and when I forget to look
Faeries drop bright yellow
crocuses and daffodils
on my path.

It is this

This knowing
that yellow exists
somewhere in the world
That the sun shines
somewhere
And that soon
it will shine on me.

Just at that moment

when the darkness
becomes too great
At that moment
when tears can no longer
be stopped from falling
When hope and faith seem
like a fool's game...

I am given a taste of spring.

~me

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday 13 February 2011: My Hyacinth Miracle

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. ~ Carl Sandburg
Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters

Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men. ~Chinese Proverb

Last year I bought a very inexpensive pot of hyacinths. I do this every spring. It is a way a greeting and embracing the spring. Usually at some point in the winter, I have a clear-out and throw out the old dirt, as they never seem to survive. This winter has been busy... busy with illness, anxiety and a 'To Do' list that never seems to shrink.

My pot of hyacinths were cut back when they stopped blooming and put on a window sill behind a chair in the conservatory, and hidden from view they were promptly forgotten.

It was my husband who discovered them blooming.

As clearly a miracle has occured, I have moved them to the sitting room and made them the subject of today's post.

Everytime their fragrance wafts my way, I am reminded that soon there will roses in bloom and lavender and warm sunshine...

You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.'
Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od' und leer das Meer.
~T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land and Other Writings)

Saturday 12 February 2011: Moon Singing in the Trees

The Moon! Artemis! the great goddess of the splendid past of men! Are you going to tell me she is a dead lump? ~ David Herbert Lawrence

A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human. ~ Georges Rouault
It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us. ~ John Ruskin

Today there was sun
Looking up there was blue sky
the moon sang to us
~haiku by me

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

 Published 1957 by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich in New York .

 

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual. ~ Virginia Woolf

As today is Virginia Woolf's birthday, I remembered to add this to my 'read' book list. I read this originally when I was in my 20s... sometime in the 70s... a long time ago... hence, the old cover.

And yes, every woman should read this... at least once. I have read it several times and have yet to live up to the woman it makes me want to become... but I have hope.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone who loves a woman, any woman, should read this.

Perhaps it is time to read it again.

Here's to you, Virginia...

January 25, 2011

Waterson Carthy★Bold Doherty

Thursday, 10 February 2011


I keep my head down
Look for hope in falling rain
dream of summer days 
haiku by me
Door at The Shepherd and Dog

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. ~ Anais Nin

Monday, 7 February 2011

Speech against library closures, 5th February 2011 by Samuel West

I was lost. I found myself in a library...
I received the link to this post in a Tweet. Yes, Samuel West is on Twitter. I found it so very moving. It says everything I wish I could have found the words to say. But mostly, I wish I had been at that library in Wandsworth to hear him deliver it. I was, instead, at my local library offering support. However, I thought it might be nice to share it here.
 
You can find the link here to the original post of the speech given by Samuel West:

I wrote this in protest against plans to close the the York Gardens Public Library in Wandsworth. It was given at their Read-in on Saturday 5th February 2011.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I grew up in Wandsworth, just up the road.  I learnt to read early, and I’ve loved it ever since. At school we had a little lending library, mostly full of old Puffins, where I took books out, and even occasionally was allowed to buy books of my very own from the age of seven or so (that was how I discovered The Moomins. I still have my original eight Puffin paperback Moomin books, and I still re-read them all every couple of years).  But my excitement at the wonders held between those covers was as nothing to the thrill behind the doors of Battersea Library in Lavender Hill.  A red brick Victorian building with an atmosphere half-imposing, half-welcoming, and all serious.  I first went in when I was seven, feeling very grown-up. I loved the smell. All libraries have this smell: the smell of ink, paper, sticky-backed plastic and concentration. The children’s library, on the right as you went in had a particularly strong scent of excitement. There’s something about meeting a hardback edition of a book you know in paperback that brings the whole function of a library into focus. Different artwork on the front, a larger size, a plastic cover and those sturdy boards around it designed to keep it safe and strong as it’s passed from hand to hand to hand.

I remember reading Watership Down when I was very small.  I finished it and was bereft. I announced solemnly to my mother that it was the best book I had ever read, and that nothing could replace it in my affections. I may even have cried a little, proud of the strength of my loyalty. My mother was unfazed. She took me down to Battersea Library, we returned with The Hobbit – that hardback edition with the blue and green and white cover inscribed by Tolkien with dwarven runes around the edge – and that was that. I was hooked. I’ve never re-read Watership Down, but The Hobbit has become one of my favourite tales, and this Christmas I bought that same edition for my nephew. I suppose I could have bought it for him on Kindle.  But I wanted him to be able to hold it in his hand (and I could have got it from the library).

I was 14 in 1980.  The 80s were a gallstone of a decade to be a teenager.  On top of the usual crises of conscience and identity, we had regular nightmares about nuclear war and a real feeling that for the first time in our history, we could easily destroy ourselves.  And no Twitter to distract you.

I was scared and confused.  And going to Battersea Library made it better.  I met and devoured a number of books by authors who took these worries seriously; dystopian, post-holocaustal stuff by Peter Dickinson, Monica Hughes, John Wyndham, John Christopher.  They spoke to my concerns and made me feel less lonely.  In fact, I suspect I got more comfort and inspiration from those books that today’s 14 year-olds get from Skins or Facebook.

Libraries are great news for kids.  A child can devour a new picture book every night.  Where else can you go to get all those books for free, chosen by people who know about such things?  Libraries’ work with kids is increasingly successful. The number of books leant to children in this country went up from 63 million in 2005 to 69 million in 2009.  This very library played its part in that success.

Now my parents first took me to the library; not all parents do. But it’s important to remember that libraries must be there for children to find by themselves. Not just as a place to borrow books, but as a safe, warm, friendly and quiet place to work or think if life at home is too loud or too crowded (for goodness’ sake, let’s also trumpet libraries as a place where homeless people can go to read the paper out of the rain). Instead of shutting them down, why not spend the little extra money to keep every library open ‘til 8pm on a school night? Would any one thing change the homework habits of the nation more cheaply?

The point is, there’s a confused 14-year-old out there on this estate right now for whom this place could be a refuge, an oasis, an inspiration, and who faced with the walk to another library a bit less local, a bigger one that hasn’t been shut down, won’t bother. You can’t just tell children to walk the extra mile through dark streets and under railway lines. They shouldn’t have to.

Do any of you play the computer game SimCity?  When your city’s thriving a few years in, the people rise up with one voice and demand a library.  Build one, and your people get happier, and cleverer.  Build two, and the effects increase.  Build enough to cover the city and land values go up.  But never, ever, not even in the SimCity universe, does a councillor appear suggesting that there are too many libraries.

I can’t quite believe we are here today. I mean, what kind of arse wants to close a library?  It beggars belief.  Councillors with books and internet connections of their own can’t imagine being someone who can’t afford a book, or how valuable those things can be to those who haven’t got them.  Why shut this particular library, which is so clearly needed, used and loved?  Why not shut a bigger library in a more prosperous ward?  Presumably Wandsworth Tories think there are fewer votes to be lost around here.  If that’s true, they should be ashamed.

Today’s Tories seem to be terrified of things being free at source.  It promotes social mobility.  Dangerous nonsense.
We will be told by the council that the punitive cuts imposed on them by central government leave them no choice. They cannot afford to oppose these cuts (why else do we elect these people?). They will say “What would you cut instead?”  As Philip Pullman points out: it’s not our job to cut services, it’s your job to defend them.

But we can oppose these cuts. And we will. All over the country, all over the world, and not just today, protests like this are giving voice and volume to a very deep-seated feeling: that the price of a library and the value of a library are not the same thing.

A library is a repository of knowledge. It shouldn’t matter if nobody even takes anything out of it. Nobody ever borrowed anything from the great library of Alexandria, but I don’t remember Greek local councillors campaigning to have it closed down. In the end, it was the cuts to the fire service that did for that one.

Public libraries cost £1.2bn a year to run, or one-sixth of the tax avoided by Vodaphone.  Public libraries employ 25 000 people.  Close them all and would we save that £1.2bn?  Nope. Here’s why, from John Kirriemuir’s excellent blog (http://use-libraries-and-learn-stuff.blogspot.com/2010/10/are-public-libraries-expensive-to-run.html):

  • That's 25,000 less employed people paying tax
  •   ...and 25,000 more unemployed people claiming benefits.
  • The knock-on effect to the suppliers of goods and services libraries need, will take a hit.
  •  ...as will the providers of goods and services bought by those 25,000 library staff.
  • ...and author and publisher payments will be down, so less tax to be gained there as well.

  • There's the unquantifiable number of people who use library services to get back into employment, through re-skilling, self-education or finding work. Close libraries and that's more tax gain lost, more people still claiming benefits.


And to those Wandsworth Tory Councillors who think “I’m alright Jack”, here’s a selfish sum to make you think.  There are 35 million registered library users, making an average of, say, 10 visits a year. Let's say the average cost of a new paperback is £5. Let's say you borrow 2 books each visit. So that's 20 books at £5 each, which is £100.  
£1.2bn divided by 35m users is about £35.  So your library membership saves you £65 a year.  Nice little earner!

In the Daily Telegraph, Phil Bradley, a librarian, posted a comment to a pro-cuts piece by some 12-year old economics graduate saying that libraries were unaffordable. Because one of the aims of today’s meeting is to support the staff of these places and the amazing work they do, I thought I’d end with Phil’s powerful words. He says it better than ever I could.

“I pay taxes for a fire service I may use... I pay taxes for schools I don’t use. I pay taxes for a library I DO use. If you are paying for something you don't use - well, I think you're the idiot and not me. But then, I'm not an economist...

And even if none of that were true - I pay for a library service because I believe that people should have a right to information. I believe that libraries give us a chance to Question, not just Read. I believe that everyone - young, old, rich or poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged should have the right and the opportunity to better themselves. That should not come at the price of being able to afford a computer and internet connection, or the ability to buy books as and when needed for one-off use, or the existing skill and ability to find out information.

A library is a mark of a civilized society, and I'd rather have a book than an economist telling me how much it costs.”

Thank you.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My Love Affair with the Library

The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, England ~ October 2010 by Robin Dalton
Libraries have been a major topic of conversation in the news (and my kitchen) lately.  Frankly, I will be the first one to admit that I have completely taken them for granted.  I was absolutely convinced they were the safest institutions around. I mean, think about it. They have always been there. They are considered the central hub of most communities. I go to mine at least once a week. When my son was unemployed, floundering and living thousands of miles away on another continent, he went to his local library to email me. It was how I knew he was still alive, literally.

Yet now I am faced with the news that public libraries are being closed. I can hardly believe it is even possible. To be honest, I still grieve over the loss of the library at Alexandria burned down in 48 BC! I would never have expected that any one would consider a library a luxury but Council Leader David Pugh from the Isle of Wight not only believes they are, but described our public libraries in those exact terms on public radio.

Surely access to accurate information leads to good decision making and exposure to the intellectual riches of civilization leads to a better world. Librarians don't try to sell us anything. Nor do they turn around and broadcast our problems, send us spam or keep a record of our interests and needs, because no matter how clever this profession is at navigating the online world, it clings to that old-fashioned value, privacy.

I could bore you with a long history of how libraries have impacted my life. Of how my Grandmother used to reward my good behaviour with books that arrived from my Grandfather's sister who was a librarian in Austin, Texas. Of the trip we made when I was finally able to read 'bigger' books, like Black Beauty (and something called The Golden Palomino - I was seriously into horses at the time), to the library on the Air Force Base, where my Grandfather worked and that dominated the Oklahoma town where we lived, to get my first ever library card. Oh sure, I had checked out books from my school library but this was different. This meant I was a 'grown-up', responsible for those books.  It was at that moment I think that I discovered that no matter how stormy the seas, libraries would always be a safe harbour for me; and they have been.

Now I live in West Sussex, in a small, not very glamourous, not very wealthy, seaside town. Lancing is sandwiched between Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea, which is just west of Brighton.

I go to my local library at least once a week. It's a very small libary. However, West Sussex has a fabulous online service, and I reserve a lot of books, CDs and DVDs online from other branches, sometimes from other counties. I'm notorious for discovering something new (to me) and needing to read everything I can about it. So notorious, in fact, that my librarians don't even have to ask my name when I come in the door.

We're very lucky so far, as none of our libraries in West Sussex are being closed. But on Thursday when I went to check out my books there was a stack of fliers reminding all of us of the need to protect our libraries.  Seeing them, I was deeply concerned that my branch was at risk. Fortunately I was told we were safe, but in solidarity for those many libraries across the country that are not as lucky as we are, we should all do the following:
Show your support for your public library and add your voice to the nationwide campaign to show national and local politicians how deeply we care about our public library service.
Saturday February 5th 2011 is Save Our Libraries Day and CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) is urging everyone to get involved and encourage everyone you know to join and use their local library.
  • Borrow as many books as you can and ask everyone you know to do the same.
  • Visit your local library, have a browse and find out what's happening in your community.
  • Come and read stories to your children in the library, borrow books to take home.
  • Go to your library website and use online reference resources.
  • Tweet why you love libraries using the hashtag #savelibraries
Today on International Save the Libraries Day, Gary (the husband) and I made a special trip to our local library. We loitered, we perused, we read, we talked to the librarians (who are hugely fascinating people, I might add) and checked out as many books as we were allowed.

Frankly, I don't know if any of this will make a difference. However, what I believe, what I feel, is that with each library that is closed a piece of our soul is lost, a piece of our future and our children's future is compromised.

Today I started a new novel. One I had checked out from my library, in fact. On page 31 I found this very timely passage:
I've been grateful to Mrs Perry [her childhood librarian], for when she handed that novel over the counter and urged my harried mother to pass it on to me, she'd either confused me with a much older child or else she'd glimpsed deep inside my soul and perceived a hole that needed filling. I've always chosen to believe the latter. After all, it's the librarian's sworn purpose to bring books together with their one true reader. ~ from The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
I truly believe that librarians do have that very special ability to connect each of us with the book we are meant to have in that moment of our lives. It has always been so for me.

The image at the top of this post is of the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, originally meant to house the Radcliffe Science Library but now is home to additional reading rooms of the Bodleian Library. You cannot look at it without thinking 'library'! My local library is extraordinarily humble in contrast, as you can see:
Lancing Public Library, West Sussex, England


Lancing Public Library, West Sussex, England



One last point, being an American ex-pat (a stranger in a strange land), that library and its staff never cease to remind me, by their large hearts and infinite knowledge that we are all part of the same community, that books and libraries are the closest thing we have to a global handshake. So, you politicians out there, that apparently are 'too busy' to read, please leave my library alone.

I will leave you with some quotes I found when I Googled Libraries that... well, I thought were pretty incredible:
What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists.  ~Archibald MacLeish, "The Premise of Meaning," American Scholar, 5 June 1972

Libraries:  The medicine chest of the soul.  ~Library at Thebes, inscription over the door

The best of my education has come from the public library... my tuition fee is a bus fare and once in a while, five cents a day for an overdue book.  You don't need to know very much to start with, if you know the way to the public library.  ~Lesley Conger

The richest person in the world - in fact all the riches in the world - couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.  ~Malcolm Forbes

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.  ~Andrew Carnegie

Librarians are almost always very helpful and often almost absurdly knowledgeable.  Their skills are probably very underestimated and largely underemployed.  ~Charles Medawar

Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark.... In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.  ~Germaine Greer
...and finally, and probably most importantly, or at least extremely well said:
The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species.  I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.  ~Carl Sagan, Cosmos
...with much gratitude to the The Quote Garden .

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Monday 24 January 2011: Aphrodite in The British Museum

Even if you gods, and all the goddesses too, should be looking on, yet would I be glad to sleep with golden Aphrodite ~ Homer

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a sculpture of Aphrodite in the British Museum.

I have had the most miraculous of things happen... It is as if the Gods and Goddesses themselves on a boring afternoon decided to play with the lesser humans on earth.

Some time ago a Twitter account found me. @MyWordWizard tweets poetry prompts, a phrase, a few words and asks their followers to complete it in 140 characters. So late at night, I would find myself experimenting with images, metaphors and words in 140 characters. Soon I met a fellow Twitter poet @beachanny ...

Over time our Twitter friendship grew and we found ourselves in conversations about poets, poetry and, of course, beauty...

She's from Texas. I am originally from Oklahoma, but now make my home in a small, not very glamourous seaside English town...

A week or so ago, she came to visit my country of residence. A short trip, but we managed to meet at The British Museum for the Eqyptian Book of the Dead exhibit, lunch and afterwards a wander through what is one of the greatest museums in the world. It is impossible to visit The British Museum without visiting the Elgin Marbles.

So here is a photo of Aphrodite. The Goddess of Beauty who very kindly graced us with her presence while two friends who had never met forged a bond that will never be forgotten.

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer

Most days I feel old
Too old for adventures
Yet, here I am
with my face alight
a bright shining star
Searching for heaven
in a smile, a thought

Through polished glass
Surrounded by the eager
and the bored alike
Reflections of the wisdom
and beauty of an ancient civilisation
shimmer on my cheeks, dance in my mind
and lodge firmly in my heart.

Could I have been
that Eqyptian Queen,
Preistess, Scribe
or perhaps even a God?

Could I expect to be anointed,
dressed in gold and lapis lazuli,
Red Jasper on a cord
lying against my once beating heart

For an afternoon I can...
~me