Monday, August 2, 2010

Birds, Bees and Honeysuckle.

This morning as I sit at my writing table in my little studio it has finally stopped raining after an incredibly wet start to the day (again!) The sun has come out for a few minutes, glimpses of blue sky peek from behind receding clouds and immediately the little birds start singing. This year the finches and sparrows have been breeding like mad and with all the rain have been finding it hard to find enough food. I have continued feeding them and in fact they have been eating me out of house and home! I crack open the window and listen to them calling to me to fill up the feeders and delight in watching them poke about in my flower beds for any morsel of off they can find.

Right outside my window is a large honeysuckle, an old fashioned one with creamy yellow and white blooms and a magnet for the bees. Even as I write, the lovely fat bumble bees are busily buzzing from bloom to bloom suppping nectar and moving on. Occasionally one hops the few short inches over to my window box to help themselves to some brunch from the bouquet of fushia pink and velvety purple petunias whose scent drifts through the window on the breeze.

It is clouding over again and my bees have moved deeper into the honeysuckle bush. I can still hear their soft murmur among the leaves. The little finches are fighting over the last few seeds in the feeder before heading for shelter. The breeze coming through the window has cooled and like my friends the bees and birds, it is time for me to retreat from this Bliss filled "Fleeting Moment" and head on into the kitchen and wash the breakfast dishes. Ho Hum!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunday Afternoon on Corlea Bog,

On a scorching spring Sunday a small group of us from Mullingar Art Guild spent some very enjoyable hours painting and gathering inspiration together at Corlea, Keenagh, Co. Longford.

My friend Mary Weir and I arrived early. It was already very hot and as we stopped along the way for a coffee we joked about really only needing the one tube of Burnt Umber(brown) to paint with on the bog.

Oh how wrong we were! I think when many people think of the bog they just think brown brown brown. Acre after acre of dark brown. But when you open your eyes and actually look around it is full of colour. Oh my God, what and incredibly beautiful world you made for us. The cloudless sky was a warm and vibrant blue, the gorse was in full bloom and underfoot on the track that led us deep into the bog, tiny tiny wild flowers sprung back up even after our heavy clumsy feet stepped on them. I dont know the names of the flowers. Pink and yellow, growing so close to the ground that unless you looked closely you would have missed them.

Patches of bog cotton grew on tufts of coarse grass amid the heather which although not now in bloom, were a gorgeous shade of rusty heathery green. Deep dark pools of water at the base of the cutaway reflected the sky and turf adding colour and richness to the brown peat. Even the peat/turf undulating in the heat seemed to hold purples and siennas.

In the distance a cloud of what I at first thought was smoke, rose high in the air. Worried that it might be a fire, what with the day being so hot, I stared at this moving cloud. After a minute or so we burst out laughing as we realised it was dust rising in the wake of a moving tractor in the distance.

As we settled down to paint each of us with our own unique vision, I was struck by the beauty of the straight lines of worked bog receding into the distance with furrows of vegetation and wild life adding depth, life and colour to this magical place.

A hare hopped along nearby, going about its business, then stopped right in front of us, staring at this strange collection of people painting, sketching, or photographing his home. Not a bit afraid, he watched for a few moments, then with a shake of the head off he went. Bliss.

In between painting and trying to prevent the dust from said tractor sticking to the painting, I took a walk over the springy ground with my camera. It is amazing what you see when you really look at things with attention. Most of the time we are on automatic pilot/cruise control, paying scant attention to right here right now.

As I have said before, "Beauty is where you look for it". What a shame we miss so much richness and Joy so much of the time.
Tremendous joyous peaceful happiness is there for us whenever we slow down and just take the time to notice the good where we are right now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Gift from Mother Nature

Sometimes I dream of being a wonderfully organised homemaker and a neat and tidy gardener. I do try, and manage to keep things reasonably well. Thankfully I am far from perfect , or I would have missed this glorious gift from Mother Nature.

I never got around to emptying this terracotta pot last Autumn and was thirlled to find California Poppies had self seeded in it this summer. Yay! They are beautiful. I am not exactly sure how they got there, although I did have a few poppies in a nearby flowerbed last year. The orangey yellow is so cheerful and vibrant and a perfect match for my sun umbrella (I'm optimistic anyway!!!) on the table beside the pot.

While I had been thinking about what to plant into the pot this year and worrying about finding the funds to do all my many pots, Mother Nature had it all sorted.

There is definitely a life lesson here, don't you think?

Thank You Thank You Thank You.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I started painting Remembrance with my beloved Granny on my mind. I found a bundle of old letters which she had written to my Mum who as an 18yr old had spent a year in France with a French family.

The letters were full of day to day goings on at home, simple things from the dog having puppies, to the neighbours buying a a new car, to Uncle Tom having to go to hospital with a bad chest infection, to Katie, Granny's kitchen helper, going home for a few days. Simple ordinary days. Reading these special letters brought me right back, sowing little seeds of Memory that opened up all sorts of other 'bigger' memories of the special times I, in my turn spent with Granny.

As I worked on the painting, enjoying the memories that surfaced, I realized that all the special times that I remembered were in fact simple ordinary things.

Walking in the Bluebells, which is probably why I often get that gentle scent of bluebells and primrose when I feel Granny's Presence at times. I believe she and my Mum are letting me know they are watching over me from Heaven. Smell is such an evocative sense isnt't it? Other special memories include sitting at the table colouring or doing a jigsaw together, baking her delicious jam sponge, walking in the garden admiring the Fairies' Washing on an Autumn morning. Sometimes just sitting together talking or even more important to a child being listened to!

None of the memories that make me feel warm and fuzzy and happy have anything to do with being anywhere glamorous or doing anything exciting adventurous things or spending large sums of money.

Granny was well traveled, always beautifully dressed and coiffed, very comfortable financially and always incredibly generous both with her time and money.

The most precious gifts she gave me were her unswerving loyalty, her unreserved love, her undivided attention and her constant praise and encouragement not to mention her great sense of fun.
Wouldn't it be lovely if we too give these gifts to our lived ones? These gifts cost no money and are free for everyone to share.

This Beautiful World we Live in offers so much for us to share with one another if only we take the time to do so.

Thank you Thank you Thank you Granny and Mum for all the love you gave me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Walk in the Bluebells

I went for the first of this year's walks in the Bluebells at Tudenham, Lough Ennell, and as always it did not disappoint. Friday afternoon and time was a little short, in between collecting the dogs from Barks and Bubbles and not knowing what time I was to collect Ross from Bowling with the lads from school. I stole a few little minutes of Bliss for myself.

I arrived at the Lake on a sunnier afternoon than was forecast. There were two other cars parked there, and I did see a man walking in the distance, but as I headed into the woods there wasn't a soul about. It was so peaceful. The woods were alive and humming with Heavenly music. The bees were collecting nectar and buzzing their little hearts out. The hoverflies and other insects were adding a bass note to the melody and the birds were offering the tenor section. I have the fondest memories of my dear Granny taking me to Tudenham as a child to walk in the Bluebells and I was utterly aware of her Presence today. We walked together in Spirit with the scent of the bluebells, primroses and wild violets occasionally catching on the wind. I would stand and sniff trying to fill my senses with their elusive fragrance.

Ahead were several different paths of fallen leaves between trees, shrubs and carpets of bluebells. I stopped and just soaked it all in. The dappled light that fell through the trees danced on the leaf paths shifting and changing all the time. I looked up into the canopy so far above my head. I love the colour of the leaves early in spring/summer. Such a vivid, almost florescent green, mottled with softer muted green of the underside of the mostly Beech trees in this woods. Glimpses of cerulean blue sky peeked through and highlighted the bright green against a tracery of the finest dark dark branches and twigs. I am always amazed at how dark the branches look in spring against such light green leaves and how the branches change colour along with the leaves throughout the season.

Some broken twisted fallen branches partially blocked my path. I bent down to kind of crawl and squeeze my way onwards and noticed tiny tiny buds on the wood anemones. A little further on, the buzzing of bees intensified. I came to a particularly thick patch of bluebells and primroses and could see thousands of worker bees happily going about their business. Two gorgeous butterflies danced together in the air above me. Flirting with each other, mirroring each others moves. Together they landed on my jacket sleeve for a second, then up and away again. I followed them for a moment and then they were gone.
For a brief moment I felt alone and sensed it was time to leave. Then I felt Granny's reassuring presence and as I passed gently through the working bees I felt profoundly connected and totally at one with nature.

The Peace sustained and remained with me for the rest of a busy day. I am so lucky and grateful to live in such a "Beautiful World" and glad to have made the time to enjoy and appreciate it.

Thank You Thank You Thank You.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Talent Seeds series.

The last 4 posts were all part of a series I have been working on about allowing myself to honour my talents and creativity. I am unsure as yet how exactly to display them. I feel they should be all together as they make up a concept when all together rather that just stand on their own. I intend to display them in my studio to remind myself to just get on with it!!!

I photographed them horizontally as above but think I may try them vertically.
At the moment they are just sitting together on a shelf on my dresser and knowing me they will probably still be there this time next year! (lol)

Reap What You Sow!

As my family can testify one of my favourite sayings is "You reap what you sow in this life"

Hidden in this painting is my phrase,

"The effort we put into this life
directly equates to the rewards
we reap"

By slowing down and appreciating what we have, and putting a little more care, attention and effort into our current situation we will reap true rewards.
Whether it be homemaking, gardening, crafting, writing, sewing, teaching, legislating, healing or any other gift we possess, we feel on purpose and fulfilled when we put our very best effort into our talents, particularly with the intention of bringing joy, healing and love to others.

By using and enjoying our talents, we are also honouring the Great Creator who granted these talents to us in the first place!.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thinning Out

I think many gardeners would agree with me that thinning out is one of the most difficult aspects to growing plants. Plucking out and discarding perfectly healthy seedlings is hard. Sometimes, I try to transplant them but no matter how well I look after them they never grow as well.

Difficult it may be, but it is essential, otherwise everything becomes overcrowded and none reach their best potential. Last year, my Husband grew lots of parsnips but he didn't get to thin out all of them and they just grew all distorted and intermingled. They were unusable.

So it is with talents. Sometime we have so much going on in our lives that we cannot find the time to concentrate on our talents. Or sometimes (this is a big one for me!!!) we jump from one thing to another with more ideas and interests than could be pursued in several lifetimes, never mind one!
Or sometimes there are people in our lives that we need to thin out, or spend less time or energy on. Everyone has stuff in life that may no longer serve them even though they may have been very valuable to us in an earlier season.

Sometimes it is necessary to thin out the extraneous activities or interests or relationships in order to really grow one talent well. This doesn't mean we can only ever do one thing well though. Maybe this is the season to concentrate on one idea, or one hobby, or one talent. Perhaps some talents will be hardy perennials while others may be half-hardy annuals!

The wonderful thing about life, is that seasons change and there is always the opportunity to cherish what is working for us, or to plant new seeds and start again.

Nourish and Flourish

As in Nature, when we nourish our talents regularly and consistently little seedlings of inspiration grow and flourish.
It is important to treat our talents gently and with respect. As any gardener will tell you, patience is required. No amount of shouting or hurrying will speed up growth.! It is the same with any talent, practice and patience brings rewards. As I regularly tell my students, there is no substitute for practice!!!

I had the pleasure and good fortune to know a wonderful lady called Teresa Kenny, whose motto was 'Concentration, Dedication, Patience'. It is now my adopted motto! Mrs Kenny raised a large, warm, talented, successful family, so obviously her motto paid off. Even the next generation flourished from her wisdom and care. Her granddaughter is the current Rose of Tralee.

I urge you to nurture you talents as gently and tenderly as you would the most delicate seedlings.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Little Seeds

I believe God sows 'seeds' of talent in each and everyone of us. In some , these seeds are nourished and flourish. In some they lie dormant and in some they surface but due to various reasons they are stunted. Maybe lack of attention, care or whatever.

With care attention and use, our talents grow and combined with being open and receptive to Divine Inspiration these little seeds of talent can yield mighty fruit!

As the wonderful Julia Cameron says 'Our talents are gifts from God, using them is our gift back to God'

Sometimes we don't feel good enough or maybe we feel our talents are just too enjoyable to be 'worthy enough' That we are meant to work hard, not enjoy ourselves. These are the times when we remind ourselves that God has given different talents and abilities to different people for His own reasons. Ours is not to question God's decision, but to make the most of what He has given us.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Painting In Progress

I am at that stage in a painting where I don't know if this will end up in the bin or a frame! Fingers crossed Inspiration will strike overnight leading to a trip to my framer!

This lovely beach is just beneath the famous Croagh Patrick just outside Westport, Co. Mayo. My husband, our 2 children and I had a very "bracing" walk on this beach just before heading back home after a lovely weekend in Westport. Just as I took the photo for this painting the wind whipped up and pelted rain into our faces. We ran helter skelter over rocks and seaweed back to the car with the lovely fresh taste of salty seaspray on our lips. A typical blustery day in the West of Ireland. Bliss.
Thank You.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How to make Birdy fatcakes.

Sometimes I buy fatballs for the birds, particularly when the weather is very cold and wet. However, sometimes they are hard to get and sometimes my budget is a bit tight!
It is very easy to make them and great fun to do with the kids.
Just melt a pack of suet, I use Atora vegetable suet, available in baking section of most supermakets, or a slab of lard. You can use a saucepan or melt them in a microwave.
Then add some seeds and any or all of the following, dried fruit, chopped nuts, grated cheese and bits of bacon. Pour into old butter containers and leave in fridge to set.

The lard will set softer and stickier than the suet and is a bit harder to turn out of container. After turning out place in a large hole feeder, a bird house or bird table.

Sit back and watch them enjoy the feast. Easy peasy!

Robin on Hawthorn


One of my favorite joys is feeding the birds every morning and in the depths of winter sometimes again in the afternoon.
It has been so cold for weeks now with the ground continuously frozen, that the poor little birdies are starving. I love filling th feeders with peanuts and fatballs and watching the birds queue up in the bare branches above. Just watching them flit from branch to branch getting ever closer to their turn, gives me such a lift on these cold mornings. If you stand very still and quiet it is amazing how close they will let you get! It is a great opportunity to study them
I also throw mixed seeds on the ground for the ground feeders like the robins and wagtails. It always amuses me how territorial the robins are. God forbid one would stray onto another's patch, they just go mental, flying and squawking at the intruder. Hilarious!
My favorites are the wagtails. Some may say that they are a plain little bird lacking the color of others like the blue tit and bullfinches. I just love their independence. They just waddle about doing their own thing tails wagging as they go, feeding wherever they can, including the cat's bowl!!! Even when the bigger birds are feeding, my little wagtails just keep on doing their own quiet little thing. My sink is at the kitchen window overlooking our patio where I often throw a handful of seed. I always have a laugh at how cheeky the wagtails are, pecking away while Blackie and Fluffy, our two cats, sit bemused on the window sill.

It is important to remember the the poor ole crows and magpies are hungry too in this weather. Scavengers all, but great hoover uppers of leftovers! I often empty the remainders of the dogs dinner onto the grass along with soaked brown bread for the crows. They get such bad press but they are such clever and sharing birds. As soon as one spots the bit of grub they call out for the rest of the family to come share the feast. Only very rarely have I seen them fight over food.

The other very important thing is water. During the Christmas frosty weather, I took the lid off our compost bin and filled it with water, which literally froze within an hour. Being plastic it was easy to just turn it over and knock out the ice each day.

The birds were a little wary of this new water source at first, but in now time at all the sparrows and finches were queuing up for a drink and a bath!

Those few gentle minutes every morning help ground me and still my mind allowing the beauty and joy of each new day to come to my awareness.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fleeting Moments

I believe Life is made up of Fleeting Moments and that it would be a shame to miss them! All things are fleeting in this life. A butterfly lands for a moment on a pretty flower, a shadow falls on a path creating a gorgeous pattern. Light shining through the trees, a cloud filled sky. Crimson rusty hues on autumn leaves. All of these moments have a beauty and joy to them. It is my intention to notice and enjoy these fleeting moments and honor them through my art.

By the same token, when I'm feeling blue I try (not always successfully!!!) to remember that those moments are fleeting too.