Category Archives: reading

books, quotes, things I have read etc.

Entwined threads

No posts recently from me because I have been feeling very tired and not 100% well. A virus? Or related to a long term condition I have had for many years I’m not sure, but some blood tests soon will hopefully give some clues.

I find it hard not to feel miserable when I feel ill, and the wider news – local, national and international is not encouraging either.  Physical and mental are so closely connected for me, entwined even. This morning I was reading Deborah Alma’s “The Emergency Poet” ( a great poetry anthology for “down” moments) and happened upon this little extract from William Blake.

“Man was made for joy and woe;

And when this we rightly know,

Through the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,

A clothing for the soul divine,

Under every grief and pine

Runs a joy with silken twine.”       From Auguries of Innocence

Weaving, cloth, thread and fabric are metaphors I can understand and relate to strongly, as the name I chose for my blog indicates. And then I found myself reading from Beverly Gordon “Textiles the Whole Story”, (a wonderful book about the meaning and significance of textiles in our lives). She describes so many rich metaphors about threads, but what stood out for me today was her description of how entwining and weaving provides beauty, strength and durability to the cords and cloths which hold us.

So perhaps I can gain courage today that the paradox of joy and woe entwined is ultimately a source of strength. And, just like the surprising toughness of natural silk, we can be reassured of joy, even when it’s hidden, running along the twisted threads of our lives.

Just as I was thinking this the postman delivered some Kaffe Fassett fabric remnants I’d bought from EBay. Not silk, but the colours are certainly joyous! Enjoy…

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Generalising July

Listening to “meet the author” on the Today programme radio four this morning, I was amused at the comment. “you can’t just write about real life, it would be too boring”. It’s true of course, the novels we read are shaped and edited, time is speeded and slowed, the focus is narrowed and widened, but repetitive routines of life are missed out to focus on action and plot.

Today in my real life the rain has fallen nearly all day, and the tomatoes I picked in the rain were muddy and wet. Not much action there.

An online course on reading novels I have been dipping into was suggesting how sometimes these routines and rhythms of life can still be described even in the best plot time line. A moment when the essence of a season, or regular event, can be captured. The description is not of a particular summer, but all summers, not just one family breakfast time, but all…

Generalising and condensing recurring moments into one description can provide the underlying rhythm of story.

So rather than try and invent some action I looked back on my July posts and photos since I started writing this online journal, to find the general themes

July skies, grey, heavy rain,

widening to cloudless blue,

July roads, stone walled in Yorkshire dales,

high mountain views in British Columbia.

July books for holiday reading,

pen meets paper healing through writing,

July fruits, red, ripe for jamming,

stirring creativity, stitching textiles.

 

 

 

 

 

February 2nd – a clover seed

I read these words by American poet Wendell Berry this morning, before I realised the significance of the date. 

On the second day of February forty-nine years ago, he too was feeling the chill and bleakness of the world. And yet, and yet, in the midst of news of war, violence and death, he walked the unpromising land and sowed seeds for the spring. 

A lovely metaphor of hope for this grey, dismal winter morning. 

February 2, 1968
In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,

war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,

I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

-Wendell Berry

Family history – small stone 5

I have recently been given this wonderful old book of the Jackson family genealogy. My great grandparents Thomas Jackson Greeves, and Gilbertina Newsom Jackson  were both direct descendants of the Isaac and Ann Jackson of this book. (As am I of course!)img_1082

Painting it this morning has made me appreciate the painstaking recording of family stories, together with the guiding principles and motivations of those who have gone before. Don’t let them be forgotten.

PS paper isn’t really blue…

“Compassion for our ugly” 

In the last couple of weeks words have been used and misused, to deceive, accuse, blame, hurt, malign and divide us. I have frequently felt lost for words and have felt I wanted to withdraw from conversations and hide.

One morning recently, when we as a nation seemed to be doing our murderous ugly worst to each other with words and weapons, I read this poem. Even as we shudder at our own failure, we are not abandoned, we are loved in our ugliness. And we have been entrusted with “the Word” to offer the same to others.

It is when we face for a moment
the  worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, our brother,
the Word. 

Denise Levertov “The mystery of the incarnation” The Stream and the Sapphire

The holding pages – small stone 17

“I have made an open place, a place for meditation. What if I cannot find myself inside it? I think of these pages as a way of doing that. I have written… to find out  what I think, to know where I stand.”

May Sarton – A Journal of a Solitude

 Re-reading this journal of a creative life, where her descriptions of the changing textures of her everyday life “crack open the inner world again”. 

Seeing in colour – small stone 4

A book which inspires me to look for colour, even when the day is grey. A story told in words and pictures, piecing past and present into a pattern of hope. A narrative shaped and fashioned, creating art from ordinary days like today.

Dreaming in Colour – An Autobiography by Kaffe Fassett