Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Greeting

A Happy Christmas to everyone who reads my blog and let's hope the New Year will not be too bad. X

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lemon balm

Melissa Officinalis - Bee Balm

Geoffrey Grigson writes in The Englishman's Flora "The rain may long ago  have washed out a chalk cottage in Wiltshire, a cob cottage in Devon or Cornwall, but as likely as not a thick thicket of bee balm will survive"
Morning Minion mentions it in her blog, and it reminded me of my old garden, lots of lemon balm everywhere not only did it travel happily around  but I also planted it in bare spaces. I have a love affair with plants and trailing and bruising the leaves through one's fingers of this particular plant was a joy on a summers day.
Many years ago I kept angora rabbits of different hues, and they also enjoyed eating the young leaves, especially my first rabbit Daisy who would savour the various plants like a connoisseur and showed a remarkable intelligence for a rabbit!
So what else does Grigson say; it comes from Southern Europe, early botanists identified it with melissophyllon 'bee leaf' of Dioscorides and the apiastrum of Pliny.  You can drink it as a tea, though there is no real taste to it and Grigson says it was by no means as nice as the smell of the leaves,  I haven't got any here in Essex, have not seen in the nursery centres..

Pliny's words; It is profiterablie planted in gardens about places where bees are kept, because they are delighted with this herbe above all others.. for when they are straied away they do finde their way home again by it..

Gerarde added that you should rub the hives with the leaves to attract more bees and also which causes the bees 'to keepe togither'

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Plasauduon, Carno, Powys

An animation of a typical 17th century 'Severn Valley' house in Powys, Wales, might even contemplate doing a miniature of one of the rooms....... it's so pretty.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ted Hughes

Curlews in April

Hang their harps over the misty valleys
A wobbling water-call
A wet-footed god of the horizons

New moons sink into the heather
And full golden moons

Bulge over spent walls

Ted Hughes has the final honour of being immortalised at Westminster in Poet's Corner this week, not sure how  he would have felt about it, Thomas Hardy did not want it after all but there we are great men get remembered for past deeds.  Two of my favourites of his poems are Hawk Roosting and the other Pike.
He is a favourite poet of mine, just love his incisive gloomy words, have a taste for morbid poets such as, Hardy, R.S.Thomas and Hughes.  When we travel up North we pass through, or at least go by a sign for Elmet, the old British Celtic kingdom in West Yorkshire or though it probably stretched out over the vale of York in its heyday.   Its particular geological situation makes it a hard place.  One of his book of poems is called 'The Remains of Elmet' and we have a copy illustrated by Fay Godwin's black and white photographs bleakly and darkly sitting side by side with Hughes poems.  It was a gift from an Irish friend a couple of years ago over here for a meeting at Avebury, he had crossed over to Wales and stopped off at Hay-on-Wye to look at the book shops there. So when ever I take down the book I think of the meal we all had at a little pub near Avebury;
I suppose his love of fishing echoes some of my childhood exploits fishing for trout on the farm near Pumpsaint in Wales, accompanied by the farm's friendly pig who snuffled around whilst we fished and then wandering home through the fields with the farmer, on one occasion with a very bouncy live eel in his knapsack that was fried when we got back.  This farm was the place my grandfather would come down to at weekends and catch salmon when they were around, these salmons would fill the fridge at home...  I once ate some pike as a child, it is supposed to be muddy to eat, but I'm sure I can only remember its teeth,  it was caught from a murky lake if I remember rightly.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The Cottage; It is finished, at least my son-in-law's hard work, various photos arrive through the day of the carpet as it is laid, him sprawling on the newly arrived sofa, waiting for his lunch at the garden table we carted down last time.  Emails, phone calls, funny texts and photos have arrived daily so I'm going to miss them and I expect he is going to miss going down to the cottage as well.  Sad times ;)
Yesterday I wrote something else but news flys by at the moment interceded by migrainal headaches which seem to cluster in that familar pattern the last few days.  One of the things i wrote about was Layman P'ang, so I will carry it forward.....

So what I had decided on writing back there at the top of the page before I deviated, was the problem that I have began to acquire 'stuff', if you put a carpet down you need a vacuum cleaner, beds need sheets, kitchen china and pans, so there I was complaining and then learnt of a 9th century Chinese monk called Layman Pang getting rid of his worldly goods. The book was found in the study, and the story goes that this monk decided to turn his house into a temple, he filled his boat with all his worldly goods (and his wife and daughter but I learnt later they survived this clearout) rowed out into the middle of the lake and threw everything overboard. And then with his daughter wandered round the countryside, all his sayings and poetry collected into a book. I must say mostly the sayings are too cryptic and of its time in history but he was instrumental for being a Zen 'ancestor'.

The book is called The Recorded Sayings of Layman P'ang (a Ninth Century Zen Classic) and is translated from the Chinese by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Yokita Iriya and Dana R.Fraser. Given as a present to my partner in 1971 with a warm dedication for help in choosing the illustrationa of the book. Ruth Fuller Sasaki, an American who intrigues me and I shall go on to explore her character eventually, she was the person who invited LS to Japan and I wrote about her here.
One verse of P'angs musings

To preserve your life you must destroy it;
Having completely destroyed it you dwell at ease,
When you attain the inmost meaning of this,
An iron boat floats upon water.

Funnily enough it brings to mind 'Jesus' of Whitby who wanders around wrapped in a cloak completely oblivious to the world around him, muttering to himself and homeless he manages to get looked after by the community, another personality that needs exploring may be.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Today a parcel arrived with the new blue enamel coffee pot that is going down to Whitby,a sort of house present for the house.  It is a lovely deep blue, and not very well taken by me the photographer, but in gathering some of the photos taken over time, came up with a beautiful white capped blue sea at Skinninggrove, and the wool roving I am spinning at the moment, pale shades of blue, two greens and a pink.
This idea of combining wool colours with what you see around is beautifully photographed in  Alison Daykin and Jane Deane's book of Creative Spinning.  Taking the seasons of the year and the colours you see around in nature.
My external drive with all my photos refuses to work at the moment, and I'm not sure how to get the photos back except inviting a computer expert to extract them - costs money so its been put on the back burner at the moment.

This is a photo from the roof when the great plan was hatched to put up a camera there

These are the gypsy ponies taken late summer, gently snoozing at midday

Tuesday photos show them sleepy once more

her mane is a tangle of burrs, a good groom would not come amiss

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Cottage

Not sure if I should think of as 'the house that Jack built', or perhaps I see it more like a pyramid being built from the top downward - impossible I know! Everything depended really on the chimney being fixed from leaking into the attic bedroom, this was done a couple of weeks ago (after the much waited arrival of the scaffolding), so now guttering and chimney fixed, the plastering was finished off last week and final painting is almost done.  Then after all that, the carpeting will go down and the SOFA will arrive on the 29th of this month, so hopefully we will spend some time in Whitby in comfort this Xmas.
 A tv bought a week ago, a satellite dish has already been fixed discreetly on the roof which means I lose two aerials on the front of the house (one belonged to my neighbour) and all my neighbours are getting excellent reception because their tvs are feeding off my dish (I think) any way reception in the yard was pretty bad apparently especially the little cottage in the corner. Did I get threatened by the tv licensing people, for not buying a license this year (£1000 fines for goodness sake) till I negotiated a stand-off period as the cottage was empty but I got one this month so I'm legal in that department.  One idea that had been mooted was to have a camera fixed to the chimney so that you could see over the rooftops to the harbour, I have photos somewhere its pretty spectacular the view but that idea has fallen by the wayside. 
Lots of things we have all learnt along the way, firstly vegetative growth on the roof, the birds must bring seeds which they generously drop in the gutter which then sprouts and blocks the water going down the drain- yikes an ongoing thing.  Now as I walk round Whitby my eye is always caught by plants growing on roof tops. Dampness; now apparently old cottages always have this, no damp barrier as in new houses, but it is not that serious, after all the cottage has been standing for 300 years.   The builder said cottages were kept fairly dry in the past by the fire in the main room which was kept going all the time. One of the things that made me fall in love with Pottery Cottage was the narrow tiny twisting staircases (bit dangerous though) and the door to the stairs down below.  It reminded me of my grandma's door to the stairs  covered with its thick chenille curtain.
The other thing is of course living in close conjunction with the neighbours and sharing a communal space, the delicate play of what we can and cannot do.  My son-in-law has been in charge of all the work and I'm very proud of him, his attention to detail is marvellous, even to the point of telling me off for shoddy work! Though it really doesn't worry me my love is also meticulously tidy and puts up with my untidiness without a complaint slipping from his lips and I really do believe we need a subtle blend of people in this world, those that are untidy and and those that are tidy......
Problems still to work out in a tiny space is there is no space for a washing machine, and various bits of furniture to fill in, though there is an auction house in the lane behind, plus of course a fish and chip shop, and Indian restaurant, food will never be a problem.  My daughter suggested going down from early December so that we could be there for Matilda who has a birthday on the 10th.  She has asked that as a birthday treat she spends a whole day alone with her mum without her sister, they are going shopping in York.  LS remembered something funny this morning about our ever curious Matilda, she had asked him did Japanese ladies keep their chopsticks in their hair? funnily enough he did not know the answer...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mirror images

For years I have gone walks often following the paths by rivers, the small shallow Welsh tumbling rivers, the deep, large river Avon that snakes its way through Bath (often in a more sinister fashion taking a life here and there as someone slips drunkenly in at night) and now Essex rivers. Essex rivers flow placidly along the flat landscape, sinuously curving through the fields you only know they are there by the long lines of upright willows that trace their path through the fields. Sometimes I think they occupy my soul, their peace and tranquillity for ever flowing on, they are a source of comfort in a world that whooshes by.
Yesterday we went a walk from Paper Mill Lock, the weather is unnaturally warm, worryingly warm, and it has been very dry here in the East, blue skies, no wind and the trees reflected sharply in the still waters, the only time I had seen such clear transparency was on a cold winter day with snow around and the river trees were an exact replication of the real trees.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Every morning we wake up to the 'crisis', where are we going, what is going to happen, the end of the world is nigh, etc, etc. Try tackling climate change for a time for relief of Europe (and the world) going belly-up, there really is no peace from this continuing saga.  But..... there are people out there being positive as well.
Below is a statement from the Quakers in Bristol (a stronghold of Quakerism), though I have no creed to believe in, their strong simplistic moral approach always appeals, and I'm glad that they have thrown their weight behind the Occupy movement which has set up in various parts of the world.  After the closure of the Wall Street protest yesterday and today St.Pauls protest group we need people to at least highlight the problems.

“Quakers in Britain share the concern for global economic justice and sustainability expressed by the Occupy movement. We agree with the statement of Occupy London Stock Exchange that our current economic system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives. We, too, “want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich,” (as stated in Occupy LSX initial statement). We are grateful to the various Occupy groups for raising these issues so passionately and respond to the deep spiritual significance that we recognise in the movement.

“Those of us who have visited have been welcomed, and found the Occupy sites an exceptional learning experience. We honour the values and positive ways of working within Occupy communities: without hierarchy, based on care for others, open to the contributions of all and searching for the truth. These are in harmony with our Quaker practice and business methods.

“The idea that another world is possible is crucial for us too. We cannot accept the injustice and destructiveness of our economic system as it is. At the annual meeting of Quakers in Britain in August 2011 we wrote: “We need to ask the question whether this system is so broken that we must urgently work with others of faith and good will to put in its place a different system in which our testimonies can flourish”. We support the process initiated by the Occupy movement to create a path towards a different future, and to develop it democratically.

On Facebook my choice of organisations to follow are few, even fewer friends because I think it is a silly business, but I can keep in touch with family and friends I know from long ago, but I'm meandering away from my point, Transition Bath has also been added, though I no longer live in that city.  There is always hope when the young band together to create city gardens and plant trees, mostly useful trees with edible fruits, around the city of Bath.  Transition Towns are slowly being set up around England, the latest sustainable idea that has taken hold.  Reading Bill Mckibben's Eaarth book also gives hope of community and localism taking hold in America as well.
His optimistic argument being that we will not descend into anarchy and civil disobedience but that the neighbourness of most people will prevail and each will help those nearest to them.  So we are moving away from that word globalisation to localism, the need for all of us to live in that immediate space that surrounds us and not to go hiking to the ends of the world to find our pleasures and sustenance.
So to two books I pulled out for future reading, Wendell Berry, another back-to-the-land person, I don't know how much I agree with him, but a strong philosophy by its nature dictates a moral and ethical stance...... 

Monday, November 14, 2011

more mushrooms

A walk in Blake's Wood to look for mushrooms, we did'nt really turn up as many as last year though it could be due to the fact we were later in the year. The sweet chestnuts had mostly gone, lots eaten by the squirrels, they lay scattered around shells broken under the thick mulch of the fallen leaves. Fly agaric was in the same place as last year, more earth balls around but no puff balls. There seems to be a type of milk cap which is prolific also, and I think the dark brown one is a shaggy parasol one.

A ploughman's lunch

Fly agaric

Earth balls (poisonous)

the woods

Shaggy parasol

Having studied the mushroom book once more I have decided that there is more poisonous mushrooms out there than edible ones. Quite a few seem to give your stomach ache and others of course are fatal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Greyness, the vegetation sinking into wetness and death

Old Grumpy, disdainful as ever in his smart tartan coat

When we walked back by the river yesterday, the word that came to mind was dank - clammy, misty, damp and dark also follows.  The weather is miserable in the sense that the sun is missing from the sky and we are covered by heavy clouds that leak a fine misty rain.  Pansies hang their heads in misery, fallen leaves lose their colour, is it depressing? not really this is British weather you become accustomed to it.
Dank is a Scandinavian word, middle english, wet, marshy ground, a pool, it flows as a word through the Scandinavian language in its wet form.  Our language follows the many times in history when we have been attacked by outside forces, the Romans, Saxons, Angles, Vikings and then the Normans, our language is a reminder of the mongrel nature of being British.
It is in evidence when we drive through villages with strange names,  latin will denote Norman overlordship, the manorial system; Saxon etmyology has a simplicity and more often or not is the name of a specific person's land.

This morning I came across an article by A.D. Mills, he has written a Dictionary of British Place Names, so if you were to look up Whitby his explanation would be thus; "White farmstead or village, or of a man called Hviti.  OScand. hviti" 1086.

 In actual fact Whitby had an earlier name The earliest record of a permanent settlement is in 656, when Streonshal, was the place where Oswy the Christian king of Northumbria, founded the first abbey, under the abbess, Hilda. The Synod of Whitby was held there in 664. Wiki entry.....

The sea mists at Whitby are called frets, or so my daughter informs me

Scandinavian heritage in Essex,
British (Celtic) /Saxon heritage;

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Global recession grows closer as G20 summit fails;  Front page Guardian news this morning, and no I'm not going to speculate where we are going, though we had a serious discussion over the price of the coffee beans this morning over said beverage!  The week has been a fiasco of self-important heads of mostly European states trying to address a problem that is insoluble - we've spent too much and there isn't any more to go round.  But my eye was taken by this on Facebook, capturing human progress.

Ken Cangi
Evolution of stupidity.

What else to capture my indignation? Well this is the rather terrifying prospect of hydro fracturing, we have already seen the fire lit water coming from the taps in the US.  Well 'fracking' as it is subversively called in this country is also here as well.  We were told last week that minor earthquakes round Blackpool were actually caused by the nearby blasting of one of these (experimental) gas wells.  No problem the company said, a one off occurence, yes well we all know what oil drilling does to our seas, so maybe we should be a little more sceptical like this video 'Ironic News Report'.  What is worse there are plans afoot to sink wells in the Mendip Hills, source of a great deal of water around Someset, including Bristol and Bath.  The hot springs of Bath would also be contaminated should anything happen.
We are led by greed and stupidity but blighting the earth on which we all live by these idiots who only see profits in their companies and bank accounts does take the biscuit........

Ending on biscuits was what I was going to talk about anyway, but indignation got in the way, at least the rising cost of food and going to shop at Lidl's.....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Early morning musings

It is early morning, I am listening to the quacking of a duck, someone has a pet duck a couple of houses away, perhaps its lonely as it welcomes the daylight.  As the light has grown, the sky had those beautiful colourways of a rising sun, but now it is dull, the rainbow I spied over the green has vanished, the brilliant coppers, yellows and burnt bronze of the leaves have dulled and rain spatters on the ground.  Sometimes I get heartsick for my walks up on the downs with Moss early morning.  At this time of the year, the moon would still be in the sky, and I could see the sun rising over the downs at Avebury a good 30 miles away. Yesterday I was thinking about the golden plovers that spent the night on the downs, I once crept up to them nestled in the grass and took a photo of them,  Moss was implacably well behaved and followed on my heel, I do miss him so.. But to the plovers, they rise in a great swoop, and their synchronised movement as they take to the air is something marvellous to behold, wings tipped down and a lovely musical note as they climb higher and higher into the sky.
The duck is welcoming the rain now, quacking away to himself, always wanted to keep ducks, Indian runners to be precise, along with a variety of hens but I doubt if I shall.  There is always a sad note to this time of the year, Samhain has gone with little celebration, and I must think of xmas presents, for Lillie I have made a miniature bed and bedding and bought her two children dolls. Matilda has fossil books, and fossils from LS (they share the same interest) and a flower press for her birthday early December, so I have to think of something else, she likes crafts but has little patience for stitching, but she is enormously curious about everything.
The boys are always easy, it will be on their Amazon wishlists, either computer games, books or something to do with football.  Tom (age 17) was reading John Grisham by the time he was 10, and now James Patterson, one who wrote about the law, the other about the police.  It seems this may have influenced his career choice as he wants to work in the CID/police force.

An article on dogs From The Cave to the Kennel, which just shows how long dogs/wolves have been with us.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Changing the clocks

Well the clocks are back, some of ours went back yesterday, so that going from room to room disorientation took place as you slipped from one time zone to another.  In this household we also have another clock in the kitchen telling Japanese time as well - so be it, the artificial telling of time as the earth spins round.  Tomorrow it will be Halloween, time for the 'Wild Hunt' to take place, and I've written about it elsewhere but I came across it in Alan Garner's Moon of Gomrath which I read last night.  I love children's books, and of course Garner's telling of tales round Alderley Edge are classics, but slightly disappointed with the writing, Tolkien does it better (who can beat him) with his breadth and expanse of other worlds, Garner has raided several Celtic books for his character's name, mostly Irish, the Children of Danu comes to mind.  Perhaps I'm a bit of a trainspotter when it comes to reading books, or perhaps I should'nt read children's book.
So my next book is the more sombre Bill Mckibben's Eaarth, back to my  green reading which I have neglected the past few months.

Halloween has actually gone downhill as an event, the 'youf' round here tend to throw eggs at the windows of people's houses, and the girls in Whitby desperate to go 'trick and treating' are not allowed of course in case they frighten old ladies, etc. Bring back the 'Wild Hunt' ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not commenting on other blogs

This is not rudeness on my part, only I find it impossible to do! It started when google demanded of me a gmail account, so I filled it in, but this blog has always been through my yahoo account. So what happens, when I go to answer on someone's blog, press the appropiate 'send', the message comes up that I must sign out and come back under my other account....I do, but get the same message on the other account. I suspect if I was cleverer would be able to overcome the problem, but then sadly I'm not.
So apologies to everyone, but I do come and read your blogs!!


Sheep of course everywhere on the moors
Back in Essex, after a comfortable drive back, the last couple of days have been taken up with washing,etc.
The cottage is in the hands of the plasterers now, chimney mended and hopefully the roof will not display any other problems, though there is mutterings about rotten wood under the guttering!
It was cold in Whitby and gale force winds for a couple of days but the cottage was warm, if somewhat unfurnished and bare of carpets, but carpets and a sofa will arrive soon, and the beds have already arrived.
My son-in-law D has beautifully painted all the old stripped paint surfaces, and done a thousand and one jobs in the process.

holcrum Hole
We came over the moors from York to Whitby, and they are bleak if the sun isn't out, a palette of browns and greys, with blackened surfaces where the heather has been deliberately burnt back.  Passing the Hole of Holcrum, a great bowl of greenery, caused not by a meteorite from outer space but the steady drip of water, drop by drop over the millenia.
Whitby is as crowded as ever, fish and chip shops abound, it's like a northern Southend but of course much prettier.  We do the usual rounds with the children, tea and chocolate cake at Sherlocks, a very Victorian teashop, with books everywhere and LS and I go to the Magpie Restaurant, not for fish and chips but they do a great range of other fish like squid, turbot and halibut.  The restaurant is so popular that people queue for hours to get in, and it has a deserved reputation.  The 'proper' way to eat fish and chips is with mushy peas, white buttered bread and a pot of tea and most people seemed to be eating this when we were there.
The sofa was, at last, found in Middlesborough, which is about 35 miles from Whitby, and you have to drive through Teesside, etc. We also took the coastal road, that took us past Skinninggrove, a small village set by the sea, now having a somewhat derelict air as the steel industry that employed so many people has gone. Each year they have a great bonfire display, a couple of years ago it was a Viking ship burnt, last year I think it was a dragon.
But to Middlesborough, an enormous shopping complex/mall, the first person we see there is 'Jesus' from Whitby standing by a hot dog stall, and D says he has probably walked all the way.  A strange thin man, who does indeed look like Jesus, thin face, long hair and beard, probably Italian he mutters unintelligibly to himself, but is well looked after in Whitby, showering at the sports centre, and collecting his daily allowance of money from the bank, where he lives I do not know.
The problem with shopping with three other people, is that everyone has an opinion on what they like, and I cannot choose too well, but Laura Ashley had a sale on, so we eventually find one at half price which seemed to suit everyone.

A view down Brunswick road, just off Flowergate

Brunswick Road with its three churches clustered together

Whitby at night

Going down the valley to Beck Hole,

Yorkshire farm house up on the moors

Skinninggrove -Teesside


The girls

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Of late, my reading has fallen by the wayside, not sure why but probably age, but I have determined to rectify this omission, giving up certain duties elsewhere, LS is also starting a new blog on conservation as well, which should be interesting when it is finished.......
Recently I read an article on a blog Musings from the Bike Shed about the new phase of  'wild or wilderness' writers, and it sent me back to my books and reading Amazon reviews about these writers.  Well this is not a critique of those books, but a general reshuffling in my mind of what is good and what I find bad.
Firstly I have always enjoyed the early 20th century writers, Susan Hartley, Edward Thomas, Massingham and Richard Jefferies come to mind and their approach to country writing, the thought of wildness had not crept into their imaginings although Jefferies novel "After London or Wild England" touches upon the word.  The English countryside was as perfectly utilised in their time as it is today, the wild places that modern day writers allude to are the bleak mountain ranges of Scotland or maybe Wales, land that is unfarmable (if such a word exists), so we have moors such as Exmoor, Dartmoor  or the Yorkshire moors, tourist havens for the walker or seeker of history or plants.  Nothing is wild, none of these places has ever escaped the tramp of feet in this small island.  And what of the mass of little islands that cling to our coasts, Scotland with its Shetland and Orkney, tiny islands like the one I came across the other day with its dozen feral cattle left behind by the last inhabitants of the island, or even St.Kilda, again an island emptied of its people, small stone houses set in line on one small street now falling into decay after the evacuation of its tiny population.
But I'm starting to move away from the subject of books, which are part of the background of my reading .  So first of all Gary Snyder, an American writer, who loved his countryside and evolved a philosophy that embraces such a wide canvas of nature writing, that the damage we do as humans is sometimes missed in his writng.  At the bottom by the way I shall print his Smokey the Bear Sutra, which always make me laugh, but in his introduction to the sutra ( A Place in Space) to the concept of a bear god he says this,,"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsating of great volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain" part of the sutra and somehow very different to the concept that people like Robert Macfarlane brings to the subject, sometimes I think of certain  people as the Munro gatherers, see nature as  in need of taming, Macfarlane does'nt do this fully but its the male streak of 'macho' man sleeping out in the cold on the highest mountain, proving his toughness that sometime underpin some modern writing.

 I'm not sure that Snyder's reference to Fudo Myoo as a bear god in Japan is a true one, but he says that the statues are found by waterfalls and deep in the wildest mountains of Japan.  Fudo has surpassing power, the power to quell all lesser violence. Snyder of course spent time in Japan in the 60s as a monk as did LS, so my late introduction to all things Japanese is kindled in this household.  Not altogether happily as demons and all kind of terrible depictions can be found in the scrolls and Japanese artwork around.!

This sutra brings to mind what I have been looking at today the protest in Wall Street, the turmoil that the rich and greedy have bought down on our world, wonder where it will all end?


A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.
Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

His left paw in the mudra of Comradely Display--indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the west, symbolic of the forces that guard the wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the true path of man on Earth:

all true paths lead through mountains--

With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;
Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs, smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;

Indicating the task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes, master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him...

Thus his great Mantra:
Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham mam


And he will protect those who love the woods and rivers, Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:


And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.
Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
Will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

...thus we have heard...
(may be reproduced free forever)

 To be continued; These thoughts on books will probably  meander on indefinitely ;)

After London, Wild England


Friday, October 7, 2011

The cottage

Wonders of technology, or at least phones that take photos;
The scaffolding is up after all this time!!

Blogs can be about anything, political viewpoints, personal viewpoints, mine seems a weekly record of what is happening in my life.  For instance no mention has been made of the Whitby cottage for ages, but it is part of my day to day thinking (and getting things) as it is slowly refurbished by my son-in-law.  Painting is almost finished, so we, LS and I will be going down in a few days  to take down some stuff, which I buy slowly in anticipation.  Bedlinen, plates, a rug from Middle Mill, towels and that is just the light stuff!  A painting for the wall occupies my mind, there is a modern artist's work - Nicki Corker in the Reading Room in Whitby which sort of takes my fancy, rather than the brown tinted old worlde photographs that are quite attractive for old cottages.
Today, friday, a text message brought the news that the scaffolding was actually going up to mend the chimney, my joy knows no bound, 6 months I have waited for this, water leaks from the chimney down into the top bedroom and it has worried me all this time, though it could be blocked drain pipe - there are plants growing out on the back wall drain pipe which is inches from another wall.... Carpet for the middle bedroom so we shall have somewhere to sleep (air beds) the real beds are coming at the end of the month.
My beloved hasn't even seen the cottage, so I regale him with tales about our neighbours in the small yard, not sure that he will appreciate living in such close company but at least it will more interesting than suburbia I tell him - hopefully.
I have furnished, in my mind at least, past ownership of the cottage with a captain, think its to do with the Georgian influence, an upgrade so to speak.  He might have sailed one of the whaling boats that feature in the Whitby Museum prints and models, rooms full of that delicious 'junk' from past ages.  Whaling was one of the past industries, something that is not condoned at all nowadays thank goodness.  I remember reading a lot of books when I was a child about the North which must have featured whaling in it somewhere, Captain Marryat comes to mind but I'm not sure he went up North...

Clear brown amber of Abbot's beer at the Cat's pub.

This looks like the dreaded honey fungus, (we did not take a speciman to our knowledgable fungi expert!) in the garden