Monthly Archives: September 2011


I love Freecycle. It’s a great way to pass on stuff you don’t need any more or aquire stuff you do. A quick email to the liast and a flood of responses usually means its pretty quick too. Last night I put on several items and most of them have gone today. An Asian gentleman took a swivel office chair. He wasnt keen on the monopod for a video camera, just didnt get why it didnt have 3 legs. His English wasn’t too good and he was sure something had fallen off it. I wanted to say “It’s free, just take it and leave”. He left it. A woman whose face I recognised came and took away a homemade blanket box. We worked out she had worked at the supermarket I use for 12 years, no wonder I knew her face – she was just out of context. Next a squaddie home from Afghanistan and now setting up his first home with two mates. He took a pile of 1970’s cook books as he is learning to cook and make food from scratch, it was fun talking about which books would be good for hime and he took a dinner party menus one for his more pretentious flatmate. A lovely woman with ME and Fybromyailgia took away an over-bed table and a digibox with no remote. We had a great chat about f=dogs as she met Geordie. She has two Rotweilers, a boy of 7 who has always been ‘her baby’ and an eighteen month old girl who has turned the old boy into a complete love smitten older man and protector. She told me how, on her bad days, the dogs come upstairs and keep her company and give her cuddles and it helps her get through. Tonight a set of bedroom furniture that there is just no room for went. I specified they would need a van and 2 strong people. This was 1930’s solid wooden furniture. They came in a small Pugeoet van, a little woman with a supervisors manner and her Dad who liked a chat but couldnt lift due to his arthiritis. Is it me? Luckily sons 1 and 2 have been my muscle all day and they ended up being the muscle to dismantle, carry downstaors and put in the van all the furniture. It took two trips.

As I said, I love Freecycle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but the concept is awesome in a materialist world and you get some great stories!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Path





Labyrinth at Norwich Cathedral. The path goes round and as you walk it you cam pray or meditate or just be centred in the moment. It is a place of peace and tranquility, a cool refreshment on a baking hot summers day.

Next the towpath alongside the Pontyscyllte Aqueduct in North Wales. It carries the Llangollen canal over the valley of the River Dee. Years ago I was on a narrowboat for a week when we went over the canal, a couple of years ago we walked over along the path. Both were scary and awesome in equal measure.

Below is a path through some gardens near where we live. Roses climb over the trellis. The formality of the gardens and the tidy paths contrast with great sweeps of grasses and generous planting that changes season by season. It is a favourite path for a Sunday walk.

The Storyteller


The Cochiti Pueblo are located in north central New Mexico near the city of Albuquerque. One of the more famous Cochiti artists is Helen Cordero. She was born in 1915 in New Mexico. In the late 1950s, she and her cousin, an accomplished potter, began making pottery as an alternative to leather and beadwork. Cordero was never satisfied with her bowls and pitchers, but then her cousin suggested that she try figures instead. In Cordero’s words, it was “like a flower blooming.” Countless tiny birds and animals and eventually, people came to life. Helen Cordero, of Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, created her first storyteller figure when she was 49 years old.  She modeled it after her grandfather who told stories about their Native American culture. One of the traditional figurine forms was a seated female figure holding a child, known as the Singing Mother. When Cordero tried her hand at this form, she “kept seeing my grandfather [Santiago Quintana]. That one, he was a really good storyteller, and there was always lots of us grandchildren around him.”  When she shaped the first portrait of her paternal grandfather, she used the traditional design but made the figure male and placed more than a realistic number of children on him. She called him Storyteller.  Between five and thirty figures cling to her sculptures.  Following the tradition begun by Helen Cordero, many other artists in Cochiti Pueblo began to create storyteller figures and developed their own styles. Seferina Ortiz created drummers and animals. Other artists created cowboy or acrobatic figures.   The Cochiti Pueblo Indians did not record their stories as we do but passed them orally to their children and grandchildren. Many of the storyteller figures are created with their mouth open and eyes closed as the Native Americans will sing or chant their stories aloud. Native Americans tell stories about creation, how certain plants and animals came to be and stories of legends, history, ceremonies or rituals. Many stories and dances or rituals are ways to honor the earth and nature’s way. Other stories tell about family, love, friendship, hunting, and so on. Some songs are performed to aid the deceased in his journey to the next world. There are reputed to be over 500 songs just for this purpose.  Helen Cordero was the first Native American to create storytellers and has sold many of her sculptures. Helen Cordero’s storytellers have been exhibited in museums in Canada and the United States and have won many awards including the Governor’s award in 1982.

This is a wonderful site that teaches you how to make one for yourself New Mexico Storyteller sculptures

Some years ago whilst in Albuquerque I bought three small storytellers. I gave one to Mum and Dad and it was always on their fireplace. Now I have the three on my desk at work. They remind me every day of how important stories are. The life story we create, the ones we tell our children, grandchildren and friends. The way in which we experience the world is made up of the stories we believe about ourselves and other people.

today I was looking at my little storytellers all over again. I had been talking to someone about Mum and her death. I realised it was like giving birth. The story we tell needs telling, sometimes over and over until somehow we make sense of it and understand it. We tell the story in our families and in our heads. If we are lucky we have people who will share the story with us or just let us tell it how we see it without trying to alter it or make it better or make it theirs. When I read again about the storytellers I heard about the songs that are sung to help the dead person go on their journey and I thought of how I sang to her “The Skye Boat Song” when I sat with her when she had gone. And the songs we sing whether hymns or not that mean something. These rituals are so important.    

I look at the storytellers I have and see how they are all the grandparents, the people who pass on the traditions. Is that me now?





To sleep, perchance to dream



I don’t think I have ever been this tired. I just want to sleep. I am having fantasies of just lying down where I am and drifting off. At work I imagine going into one of the therapy rooms, curling up on the sofa and dozing. My body feels like I am wading through a thick gloopy fog that weighs down on my limbs. I slept well last night. Or so I thought. I was in bed by 9.30pm and didnt wake up until I really had to get up this morning at 7.40am. All I wanted to do was get back under the covers and sleep.

I talked myself into showering, getting dressed and breakfasted and going to work. Even with make up on today people keep noticing Im tired. i think the yawning is giving it away. I went for a walk at lunchtime, some fresh air, a trip to the post office. Ate my lunch. Still I just want to sleep. All I can think of is getting home and going to bed.

I think it is grief. I didnt know it could make you so tired. Maybe it is the bodies way of protecting us. Sleep is such a healing thing. And losing someone you love is a shock, however it happens. I know at first it was shock that i felt. like a hit to the brain a flood of chemicals that numbed me out and carried me along on a tide where I was functioning somewhere in a sort of out of body way. Sometimes I have to get angry before i can cry. i think that is happening now. And yesterday I had another shock. A while ago I wrote a blog about exploitation and old age, with particular reference to a situation we had found ourselves in. Yesterday remnants of that situation resurfaced. I had to speak to the lawyer. It will be resolved but it was a shock. People can be truly wicked. I havent experienced that quite so directly before, but now I know it.  When i got home I got angry and then I cried. It feels so abusive, so intrusive to have to deal with this now. So the tiredness makes sense i suppose. In the middle of grieving it is hard to know what you are dealing with. Emotions are raw and energy is low.

I hope other people learn from this. If ypou have aging relatives or people you love who are vulnerable, take care. Sometimes that ‘friend’ who has suddenly appeared and seems to be spending a lot of time being helpful is actually ‘grooming ‘ them for abuse and exploitation. They cause rifts between families, prey on the fears and worries of the old, scared or lonely and are psychopathic in their lack of emapthy and calculated self-seeking. I have had nothing but love and support and tenderness from almost everyone and neither did mum. But one bad apple can create a lot of poison if you let it.