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April 2011

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Tilly & Howard Gayton April 2011

* The first issue of Demeter's Spicebox is now online, from the fantastic crew behind Cabinet des Fées. This issue focuses on the "Tatterhood" folk tale, with excellent new work by Shveta Thakrar and Mari Ness. Congratulations to all involved.

* Two terrific stories from Subterranean Magazine's Special YA Issue (edited by Gwenda Bond) can be read online: "The Fox" by Melinda Lo and "Younger Women" by Karen Joy Fowler. If you're like me, you'll want to read the whole issue. The Table of Contents looks absolutely stellar.

* Rush-that-Speaks discusses T.H. White's "The Goshawk," and the subject of patience, in a fascinating, beautifully penned review on LJ and Dreamwidth (via Amal El-Mohtar). Dont miss this one.

* Justine Musk posts a "creative badass manifesto" on her Tribal Writer blog...and Theodora Goss responds with her own thoughts on writing.

* Californian events designer Tricia Fontaine brings a new dish to the Moveable Feast about blogging, over on her Conversations with the Muses.

* Dartmoor artist David Wyatt revisits his delightful Old Goat's Home on his Posterous blog.

* Are you familiar with Chris Sheridan's paintings? He does some very interesting things with mythic archetypes, magic, and tricksters...and has a new exhibition up later this spring if you're anywhere near the D.C. area.

* If you're in the NYC area, don't miss Alchemically Yours at the Observatory in Brooklyn (beginning May 7th): a group exhibition curated with Phantasmaphile's Pam Grossman. It looks magical indeed.

* Also for alchemy fans: a new Friday post has just gone up over at JB, with more fabulous Tarot-based imagery.

* In the "shameless promotional plug for a friend" department: If you live in Devon and are interested in martial arts, there is absolutely no better teacher than Damien Hackney. He's just put a handsome new website up, which you can find here. (Damien previously appeared on this blog back in February, playing fiddle in our kitchen.)

* Max Lindenman looks at this week's Royal Wedding from a pagan/folkloric persective, over at the Catholic blog The Anchoress (via Midori Snyder). A funny little article, with interesting comments -- though for the record, we're Republicans in my household (in the British sense of that word, not the American one) and wish that UK tax-payer's money was being spent to keep libraries and rural post offices open instead. <sigh>

* For two visions of Easter in the English countryside: Karen Davis, in Wiltshire, visits a wildlife rescue centre over on Moonlight and Hares; and Danielle Barlow, here in Devon, rolls Easter Eggs from one of the hills above our village, over on Notes from the Rookery. The photographs on both blogs are charming.

It was a quiet Easter weekend here at Bumblehill, just gardening and cooking and hanging with the pooch. This is the busier week for us, with artist friends visiting from France, and other close friends moving house, and Howard's band playing two gigs, and the Royal Wedding circus to staunchly ignore. Convalescence means that the number of social events I find myself missing is still running quite a bit higher than the number of things I actually make it to, but... Patience. Patience. In art. In life. All things come in their own good time...as my wise husband and pup remind me daily. And that's the two of them, of couse, in the studio picture above, making beautiful music together.

Have a good weekend.


On Patience

Top of the hill

As Tilly and I climb the hill behind our house, the seasons re-wind with each step we take. We can feel Winter's touch in the cold, clear air; in the crunch of old bracken underfoot; in stillness and silence and skeletal trees motionless in the pale light of morning. But the seasons return to their rightful path as we turn and race downhill again, descending into the arms of Spring: a sun-dappled valley of scent and color...

Bottom of the hill

...of bird chatter and wildflowers....

Stitchwort in the early morning sun

...and of bluebells, marking where faery feet have trod these hills before us.

Bluebell path

The woodland behind my studio becomes Faerieland when the bluebells bloom. We'll go there tomorrow, Tilly and I. Right now we're walking the woodland's edge, its boundary wall of old tumbled stone. Magic must be approached slowly. Patiently. Or it disappears.

And once again, I find myself thinking of words written by John O'Donohue, whose books were so often my woodland companions during the long, dark winter months just past:

"What you encounter, recognize or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach," he points out. "Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach. An encounter of depth and spirit was preceded by careful preparation.

"When we approach with reverence," the poet continues, "great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace."

Approaching the bluebell wood.

Bluebells and stone

"Often we approach things with greed and urgency, we do not like to wait. As we wait at the vertical altar to go on-line, we become frustrated by the few extra seconds the machine needs to find its mind. Computer makers are constantly at work to cut the transition time; the flick from world to cyber-world must become seamless. We live under the imperative of the stand-alone digital instant; and it is uncanny how neatly that instant has become the measure not alone of time but of space."

At the edge of the bluebell woods

"Classically, the understanding of life, the unfolding of identity and creativity, the notion of growth and discovery were articulated through the metaphor of the journey. Virgil's Aeneid is the journey from fallen Troy to the glory of the new city of Rome. Homer's Odyssey is a great mystical journey home. Dante's Divine Comedy is an epic journey through hell and purgatory until the arrival in Paradise."

Bluebell wood boundary line

"Each human life is the journey from childhood to a realized adult life. Each day is a journey out of darkness into light. Each friendship and love is the intimate journey where the soul is born and grows. The journey is the drama of the heart's voyage into the tide of possibilities which open before it. Indeed, a book is a path of words which takes the heart in a new direction."

Tilly and the bluebells

Tilly sits at the threshold, waiting for me. Patience, I tell her. And tell myself. Tomorrow, or the next day, when the time is just right, we'll take that path, we'll enter the woods, we'll start that new story, begin that new painting, embark on that fresh new phase of life. No more racing downhill, pup. We move slowly now. Letting magic happen. Letting art happen. Letting life and health and stories unfold. And approaching all of these things with due reverence.

Patience, my little one, patience.

_________________________________________________________________________

Irish poet, theologian, and philospher John O'Donohue (1956-2008)  is quoted from his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (HarperCollins, 2004).


On Your Desk

Will's desk 1

The desktop photo above comes from Will Shetterly, the author of many fine stories and books -- the latter including Dogland, The Gospel of the Knife, Midnight Girl, and two Bordertown novels that have been deeply loved by a generation of readers: Elsewhere and Nevernever. Will lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife (writer Emma Bull), a couple of cats, a horse (not his own), and daily visits from assorted desert wildlife. His desk sits in a light-filled yellow room that opens onto a walled desert garden.

About the photograph, he says: "I got an Ikea desk in the '90s that I've modified over the years: It's been painted a couple of times, and I used a sabre saw to cut out two of the shelves. Recently, wanting a standing desk, I rearranged the shelves and added 8" plastic bed risers from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It's perfect now for standing. The mat is a $10 kitchen mat from Target. I don't always wear the shoes when I work, though I probably should: if you stand a lot, good shoes help prevent problems like swollen feet. Because it's nice to go between standing and sitting, I bought a stool on clearance at Target (pictured below). That's Terri's painting 'Oliver and the Desert Fairies' hanging on the wall."

Will's desk 2

And speaking of desktops, here's a link to a previous blog post (from 2009) discussing "The Writer's Desk" by Julie Krementz, a wonderful book of photographs containing a variety of interesting workspaces. (Many thanks to Michelle in NYC for reminding me of the book.)  There are also links in the post and in the comments that follow to other photographs of creative workspaces. ________________________________________________________________________

All readers of this blog are welcome to contribute to the "On Your Desk" series. You'll find more information (and the address where you should send your photo) in the first post of the series, and you can view the full series here.


We have a winner!

Elfrage1

This morning I put the names of everyone who entered my Welcome to Bordertown ARC contest into a hat, and picked one slip of paper with the winning name: Evan. Congratulations, Evan! The ARC will soon be on its way to you.

For those of you who didn't win, don't despair: we have more contests coming up between now and the book's publication date (May 24). At the moment Holly Black is running one, which finishes on May 8th. All you have to do to enter is to go to her blog and leave a comment about your favorite magical place. " It can be a place you've been to in our world which has always seemed special," says Holly, "or a magical land that you have only visited in a book." And while you're over at Holly's blog, have a look at the comments that have been left so far, some of which are very touching. 

Also, Janni Simner is running an ARC tour here; I don't know if there are any places left on it, but it's worth asking if you're interested. And go here to read the first review to come in as a result of Janni's ARC tour.

Photo above by Midori Snyder.


Tunes for a Monday Morning

Today's tune is a fabulously wacky, jazzy version of the old Anglo/Scots/Irish folk song "Mad Tom of Bedlam," performed by the New-York-based singer Charlene Kaye (with thanks to Amal El-Mohtar for the link).

This is, by the way, one of the videos featured on the Music page of the new website for the Bordertown Series. (And just to loop everything in this post together, Amal is one of the writers in the new Bordertown book.) My brief for creating the Bordertown Music page was to chose musicians and bands who would go down well with the kids of Bordertown -- largely (but not exclusively) musicians who use traditional music (Celtic, Gypsy, Klezmer, Latin, etc.) in unusual and contemporary ways. It was hard to chose just a few videos -- I've probably overloaded the page with too many already! -- and no doubt other Bordertown readers would make entirely different selections. Please feel free to give us your own Bordertown play list, or to let us know what deserving bands we've overlooked, in the Comments section of the Bordertown Music page.

Getting back to "Mad Tom of Bedlam" (aka "Bedlam Boys"), Irish singer Heidi Talbot has also recorded a good version of the song, which is far more traditional in her rendering. In the video below, she performs it along with two other distinguished folkies, Kris Drever and John McCusker.

I'll end today with two more versions of the tune, the first from Scotland's Old Blind Dogs. The second is the old, now-classic version by the English roots band Steeleye Span.


Spring unfolds at Bumblehill

Garden 3

"It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart."  - Rainer Marie Rilke

Garden 2

Garden 4

Garden 5

"Obviously a garden is not the wilderness but an assembly of shapes, most of them living, that owes some share of its composition, it’s appearance, to human design and effort, human conventions and convenience, and the human pursuit of that elusive, indefinable harmony that we call beauty. It has a life of its own, an intricate, willful, secret life, as any gardener knows. It is only the humans in it who think of it as a garden. But a garden is a relationship, which is one of the countless reasons why it is never finished."  - M.S. Merwin

Garden 6

Garden 7

Dandlion fluffTilly's dandelion fluff eyebrows (photo by Howard)

"To laugh often and much; to win the affection of intelligent people and the affection of children;to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."  - Harry Emerson Fosdick

Bumbehill


Another Bordertown Contest!

Borderland elf by Iain McCaig  If you act fast, you have a third opportunity for winning an Advance Reading Copy of Welcome to Bordertown (in addition to the two contests I posted yesterday), over on Dark Roast, Emma Bull's LJ page.

"All you have to do to win," Emma says, "is tell me, in the comments to this post [on the Dark Roast blog], how you would find your way to Bordertown, if you decided to run away, too. Points for originality (of course!), humor (though I'm fussy), and an overall sense of "I'm having fun!". I'll judge the entries, because I'm like that. "

I recommend reading the answers that have been left on the post so far, which are wonderful. The contest ends tomorrow, Thurday April 21.