Friday, 28 April 2017

People of the Book. Ancestors.

Brief historical note:

Between the 9th century and the 1400's, Muslims rulers in Spain not only tolerated Jews, but gave them many privileges.  They became known as 'The People of the Book.'  During many centuries great interchange of learning took place especially in Cordoba, Andalucía, until 1492 , when the  Jews were brutally expelled from the country they knew as home, unless they converted to Christianity.

Here, today in usually sunny Andalucia, it's a cold wet morning. So unusual.  The plants, the trees, and the thirsty land effortlessly absorb the colourless  rain.

I would light the fire if I had any kindling or  if I had a rain jacket, I'd go looking for wood.

 On the other side of the river, there are  lots of sticks and bark and hollow bamboo, but the only  bridge is narrow, made just for visiting sheep and goats .


Dare I try it with one crutch, and no handrail?

Question.  How to make the best of today?

 How can I be helpful or encourageing to anybody today, and disabled at the same time ?

And what can I learn without leaving my little house?

EASY answer.   The Internet.

Organic coffee in hand, wrapped up in a purple Peruvian blanket on the magenta sofa, I feel a blog coming on !!!

As Mary Oliver invites us to:

Pay attention, be alert, tell about it.’

I will, I want to , I’m trying!

People of the book, ancestors, yours and mine?

People of the Book. Ist version.

Finished 1st version.Very hard to photgraph.  Poor colour.

2nd version beginning...

Early morning thoughts tap dance as the sky turns different shades of grey. Does the rain silence the nightingales?

10.30. More rain.  Good.
Will my chickens lay eggs in this downpour?

Thinking about - Friendship? Trust?  Patience?

Remembering to expect the best not the worst. Another operation looming close now.

Noticing how my heart closes and freezes when opening certain emails. The mind goes white.  Love this Spanish expression. Like a whiteout! Si señor!

So, how best to harvest the wisdom that surrounds us, despite the state of the world?

Creer es crear -to believe is to grow. Gracias Arbol Rojo.

I want to always believe in goodness.

Belalcazar monastery studio.

 A wonderful John O’Donohue’s poem about mornings comes via  FB.

It comes with the same joy of receiving an old-fashioned letter under the front door.
Remember the pleasure of recognising a friends handwriting?  Thank you Benita.

The poem starts:

‘May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear…’

Golden years in Spain, when Muslims, Jews, and Chrstians lived harmoniously side by side in Andalucia.

I teasure this gift which slips out easily, but I'm shy and bold to share it. !  Much more shy than bold usually.

So love that Irish expression.. she's bold !  
She's frikken bold ye know! 
Ah no.  
Not often. 
Not unless it's necessary !

The new ' Jewish ' drawings boldly communicate  in their own nonverbal way, timeless, title-less stories of  Spanish Jewish history.   Beloved ancestors. 

By way of contrast, these four images below (made between 1998-2000)  arrived long before cancer knocked on my door in 2014.

Skellig Michael Monks 1999

Inuit Elder, Newfoundland 1999.
Aids in orphanges in Bulgaria.

My unmet father.

When cancer moved into my life, the artist in me came out of the cupboard!  Big time!

The journey was  truly mysterious and truly miraculous.  It involved losing the self I used to know, losing my home , losing my identity...

It's like I don't remember  who I used to be,  and I don't know now who I'm becoming. But my soul is completely at home in these drawings,  it rests here, and it recharges.

Is that what I want to say?
Yes I believe it is !

Belalcazar Monastery 2015

Pen and ink drawing, damaged and remade.  2015.

 I’m sharing  the new  pink version of  People of the Book (below), chosing to be bold on this grey wet day. 

 Drawings numbers 2 -6 show how it began two years ago.

The theme of the  drawing is The Conviencia in Spain in the 14th century. In 2015, I spent two months painting at Belalcazar monastery  near Cordoba, exploring this period with a varity of materials.

Splashes of black ink were thrown onto thick white paper driven by intense feelings related to the brutal expulsion of the Jews in 1492.  The People of the Book were robbed of everything they possessed, their homes, their homeland , their work, the lives they had created.

Abandoned for two years, the drawing has now evolved into a pink reincarnation, thanks to the upcoming Pink Exhibition in Velez Benadaulla, Andalucia.

So it's kind of like these three characters  have finally found their new homeland, as I have, literally across the river from where my  Spanish life stared, 21 years ago.

I've found a brand new life, and a new home - with chickens - post chemo!

Two years now in remisssion.

Thank you God/Goddess /All That Is.

And so the day ends with with finding firewod, feeling warm, finishing the drawing, and sharing the story.

And your day?  Did it surprise you?

“Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”
Thank you Robyn.

Impossible to photograph well, the finished drawing, with me in the picture ! LOL!

Exhibition details to follow.

Monday, 10 April 2017

One gesture. One person. One moment in time.


This is how change happens, or doesn’t happen. One gesture. One person. One moment in time held, or let slip.

I love hobbling through the dew in the morning, calling to the hens, telling them what delicious scraps they’re about to get, opening the stiff gate into the chicken run, and then searching for their eggs. Usually they each lay one every 24 hours.

At 11 am, I sat for an hour in the eucalyptus forest with a group of  young mums with their babies and young children.  Close by was the forest  bar, the dry river bed, the gypsies ponies, and the busy main street is not far away. The sun was shining, the mood  lively.  They were planning a fund raiser in the forest for  RCK - an organisation which provides daily meals for thousands of refugees in France.
Their inspirational young leader Bridie, is fired with passionate enthusiasm.

I listened and watched. There was something in the air.

Then seemingly suddenly, but oh so gently, a 5 month old baby and I fell in love with each other.

She was lying  on her mother’s lap, just inches away from  me. There was nothing to be done except to  look into each other’s eye and beam love.

Occasionally we touched hands, but all she wanted to do was soul gaze.

Painting y George Roualt.

Then, because my legs became sore from sitting for an hour and a half, and I knew my  purse was empty,  I left the forest, and went to the bank.  This was a small side track to the ‘mission’ to buy local olive oil. 

I like to think of my visits to the nearby small town as my ‘missions.’ Sometimes I succeed.  Sometimes I fail.  Both happened yesterday I think.

At the cash point outside the bank, I quickly became spellbound by a short conversation with an elderly señor visiting our area. You go first he said, so I did.
He told me quietly he was  afraid to use the cash machine, in case his card got goggled up.

Automatically I pushed buttons, one eye on him, the other on the screen. My card popped out.

With little  encouragement, he launched into  a passionate philosophical – or was it a poetic-  explanation on the origin of fear.  
All the time  he  beamed such vulnerability and such sweetness towards me,  I almost offered to wait  to see if his Visa card  slid out  ok.  But didn’t, and I don’t know why.  
 I drew his attention to the help number above the machine, if needed, and turned away.

Drawing by Egon Shile.
His eyes followed me into the street, as if saying, but I haven’t finished yet, please wait.
He looked six years old.
I felt deeply  ashamed of myself  for giving so little of myself, and so little of my time.

Who knows what one more minute, one more sentence could have manifested?

One gesture. One person. One moment in time, and change can happen. On this occasion , it didn't, well, not in a positive way .

Walking away to buy the oil, downhill and uphill, I  felt acutely the meaning of the word deserter.

It isn’t every day that buying organic olive oil includes a concert of Sufi music! A group of talented musicians were playing at the indoor market.

So,  after listening to the sweetest of sounds for  a short while, as if being blown from one place to another by a strong wind,  I bought the golden oil,  and  from the new Moroccan tea shop, chose a small treat. I think it’s called Baklava.
It’s  a two inch square of brown sugary heaven.
It will be quartered and rationed and shared tomorrow with a visiting Norwegian lady vicar.

48 different nationalities live in and around our little town of Orgiva in Andalucia, Spain.  Every known faith and no faith, I think , is practiced and respected here.

This afternoons siesta was deep and long, and lunch was not a culinary success. Some ingredient was missing ! Healthy and  organic  yes, but… well… not quite right !  Do you every do this?

The day seemed to then  change gear in late afternoon.  I felt exhausted.  My legs were sore again. When will this operation be?  Soon please.  So I decided not to go the evening concert in the church.

Supper wasn’t  a great success either, not a good cooking day, but then a walk around the lane at 8.30pm set  the inner compass  back into perfect balance.

All around my new little rented house there is so much natural beauty.  So much  coming to life in the springtime plant world.    So much newness… so much space… so many shades of green, and the poppies appearing overnight in such amazing places, as if chosen my angels for the very maximum wow factor.

Why am I writing this? What’s my mission right now, post chemo, in remission for 2 years?

I really feel it’s to follow Mary Oliver’s advice:

‘Pay attention. Be astonished.  Tell about it,’

Nothing is certain in my life now, and that’s universal.

We all interact with strangers every day. For me they are my daily teachers.
I find it so easy to love them, anywhere in the world.

So what happened with the elderly man at the cash point?
My heart was guarded. Why?

What I  find hard is to end one experience and then start another right after.. it feels a bit like writing a story without any punctuation, or , eating soup and pudding at the same time !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And this is how change happens, or doesn’t happen. One gesture. One person. One moment in time grasped, or let slip.

my home for 3 months

Bridie and friends are fundraising for on Saturday 22nd April in the forest beside Rio Chico, Orgiva Andalucia.  11-5pm
A day of wonderful kiddies activities and taster sessions of many therapies.