Saturday, March 30, 2013


First Warm Day of Spring - Charras


The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived.  And finding some forgotten 
lupins I'd sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop each
like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useful persistence, 
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter's ended.

Paula Meehan from Mysteries of the Home,
Dedalus Press, reissued Feb. 2013

Street Lamps in the Country of the Clouds

Blossoms by the back wall

Fortified 12thc. Eglise - Is this where God is?

Or maybe he's here, next to the daffodils?

Before the grêle (hail)

Spring air- 
woven moon
and plum scent

Haiku poems of  Matsuo Basho
                                                                            all the more I wish to see
                                                                            in those blossoms at dawn
                                                                            the face of a God 
Grêle (hail) on my window sill

 Hail stones 
 glancing off the rocks
 at Stony Pass

 I was Tangled up in Blue until I went for a promenade in Demeter's backyard...

Sarah Moon - French Photographer*

Sarah Moon
Flowers began to sprout from my head, & I remembered a line from a poem in Dog Music- "So often we are like dogs at a concert, we hear all of the noise and none of the music."

What else could I do, but bark?    or howl at the moon?    or TRANSFORM?

Howling at the Moon - Zanardo

Sarah Moon

*Sarah Moon, "Small is Beautiful" - Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris
"Trois Poètes de la Miniature" - La Mois de La Photo Paris, 2012

Thursday, March 21, 2013

'YOU CAN NEVER HOLD BACK THE SPRING" & Skidding on Butterflies

"winter dreams the same dream every time"
           Tom Waits, Orphans

It's true, "you can never hold back the spring."  You can listen to that "gruff lullaby" (thanks Kim) by Waits, on You Tube.  I like the version sent to me by friend Jeanne in southern CA.-- the one with the spring scenes.

To celebrate the first day of spring as well as the one year anniversary of the Abracadabra Blog, I saddled up my trusty bike and headed out to the usual haunts in the quartier. Spring's arrival came like a sly cat on stealthy paws, mostly fur and whiskers, a few claws. 

The White Orchard - Vincent Van Gogh

For me, spring is kind of a happy/sad time.  Happy to put away the black sweaters, the big boots, the layers of inner and outer wear.  Happy to see the first blooms, bulbs shooting up, jonquils waving their heads, the new growth in the garden.  Happy to see the baby lambs and foals, the skies all puffed up with Magritte clouds sans bowler hat.

Clouds over Charras
Magritte Cloud Collage - Allyson Winter's Class

Sad because? ne sais pas exactly.  I feel a bit like Ophelia in John Everett Millais' famous Pre-Raphaelite painting, surrounded by beauty, floating on a river of tears.

Ophelia - John Everett Millais -1851-52

French sociologist Emile Durkheim's research (along with others) showed that more suicides take place in spring and summer than winter or fall...seems counter intuitive, but rather than emphasizing the role of nature he interpreted the phenomenon in sociological terms writing that, "most suicides took place in the spring because  'everything begins to awaken; activity is resumed, relations spring up, interchanges increase. In other words, it is the density of human interactions, and not the environment that caused the higher incidence of suicide in spring and summer'."

I think Durkheim got it right.  I made the link between increased human interactions and interchanges and my own sad/suicidal feelings based on the upcoming Annual Co-propriete meeting here at the Chateau.  This won't mean much to those who don't live in France, New York or any other place where converted brownstones or old piles of European stones are joined together to form co-op apartments overseen by an elected Board, Syndic and varying numbers of squabbling owners.

We were warned by everyone we knew, including french friends, to not buy into such a situation, but we did.  Not regretting our decision, since 90% of the owners are good eggs, but there's always a rotten one who can make everyone else's life miserable.

As I was peddling along the lyrical french roads, I asked myself why this wicked, mean-spirited, bitter person, who subverts the working process at every turn, is in our lives???  The words "bi-polar stalker" danced before my eyes like midges in August on Mt. Algonquin, upstate New York.  And if you've ever been unlucky enough to have a stalker turn up in your reality you'll know what I mean.  I had one once before; ex-boyfriend when I was in my twenties, who knocked me around more than a few times (he was a California Junior Golden Gloves Champion).  I decided my only alternative was to move to New York to get away from him, but he continued to stalk me for the next ten years, even after I was married.  I don't think he was bi-polar, just your garden variety narcissist. If you are out there Thomas "P" (pretended his middle name was Patrick, but it was Paul) Quady, look out, I'm gonna out you on Oprah!

It's not just the stalking, but the creepy knowledge that someone is out to destroy you as part of their power mongering.  I feel like I am in Shakespeare's play Othello, dealing with Iago.  "Iago claims a reputation for honesty and plain speaking, yet invents elaborate lies in order to exploit and manipulate other people. Treats others as fools and has no time for tender emotion, yet is a married man and presumably once loved his wife. He cares for no one, yet devotes his whole life to revenge rather than walk away in disdain. He believes in cheating and lying for gain." CHECK

Alladin Jafar and Iago

"Iago is surrounded with bitter irony: he is not as he seems, his good is bad for others, people repeatedly rely on him, and he betrays them. He likes to have others unwittingly working to serve his purposes."  Cliff's Notes

William Hazlitt wrote: "Iago is an extreme instance . . . of diseased intellectual activity, with the most perfect indifference to moral good or evil, or rather with a decided preference of the latter, because it falls more readily in with his favorite propensity, gives greater zest to his thoughts and scope to his actions. He is quite or nearly indifferent to his own fate as to that of others; he runs all risks for a trifling and doubtful advantage, and is himself the dupe and victim of ruling passion — an insatiable craving after action of the most difficult and dangerous kind." CHECK

 Really much more interesting than a "bi-polar stalker"!

"Who Breaks a Butterfly Upon a Wheel" - Alexandar Pope
Dealing with these kinds of people is a ripe form of torture that brings to mind the 18th c. poet, Alexander Pope's line, "Who Breaks a Butterfly Upon a Wheel?" alluding to "breaking on the wheel", a form of torture in which victims had their long bones broken by an iron bar while tied to a Catherine wheel. In his epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, Pope wrote:
Let Sporus tremble –"What? that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?"
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys,

Alexandar Pope, 1727 - Michael Dahl

Ah, but let us speak no more of villains, torture, or worst yet MEETINGS!

Today is Abracadabra's birthday and the first day of Printemps, & you can't hold back the spring!  It's been a rich, rewarding year, and I want to thank all my faithful followers & readers of this quirky blog, from all over the world.  I know some of you are "spammers"-- maybe the ones from the Ukraine.  I'm not naming any names.  YOU know who you are,

Instead let us paint a picture of METAMORPHOSIS, TRANSFORMATION and TATTOOS
Drew Barrymore's Tattoo

Harry Brown at the launch of the Natural History Museum's sensational butterfly exhibition

For those of you in the Dordogne or Charente, on Sunday March 24th, I will be reading Tarot at an Open Day at Under the Lime Tree, a retreat/gite center in Cellefrouin.  Hectares and hectares of organic gardens, fruit trees, set along a river with hammocks and jacuzzi, hot stone massages and the great sense of peace and revitalization that comes from being at a spiritual power center.  Maybe we'll do some smudging and rituals to minimize Iago's dark forces, but mostly we'll be connecting with the beauty of the tarot images and the divine forces that make the world a joyful place.  All suicidal thoughts shall be banished!  You can see the stars there.

Under the Lime Tree - Nikki Emmerton and Sean Williams

It's rare to find these kinds of places in France; it's like stepping back into northern California.

And for those of you in Paris, I will be in the 5th arr. for a friend's wedding from April 3-7, and also booking tarot readings. Several spaces left on April 4th and 6th.  To contact me to set up a reading, please email:

 Bisous mes amies, I promise to be in a better mood next time!

"What I remembered most clearly about this Jinja road was that on portions of it, for reasons no one could explain, butterflies settled in long fluffy tracts.  There might be eighty feet of road carpeted by white butterflies, so many of them that if you drove too fast your tires lost their grip, and some people lost their lives, skidding on butterflies."

from Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town - Paul Theroux

It almost looked like it was snowing butterflies

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TRAPPED: Like a Fat Ballerina in a SNOW GLOBE

Tiny Tiara

That's how I felt in January and February when even a roaring fire failed to warm the bones. Not much "Funification." The world was icepick sharp, murky with mist and fog.  Crystalline spiderwebs appeared each morning outside my bedroom window.  

The webs were a spun phenomenon of "Rime" frost in which cloud & fog droplets smaller than rain  droplets fasten upon objects like spiderwebs on cold and foggy nights, rapidly freezing if the temp goes below 0 degrees C (which Oy Vey, Les Saints de Glaces! it certainly did), forming a glaze. As more cold fog droplets hit the windward side of the web they build up a mass of porous ice or "rime", with air spaces between the solidified droplets.  Because of the air spaces, it appears white in contrast to glazed frost, which is clear solid ice with little or no trapped air. Oh why couldn't it be Window Frost, or Fern Frost or Ice Flowers?

But then the thought that it could be "Hoar Frost" filled me with Horror. The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective for showing signs of old age, in this context referring to frost which makes trees and bushes and Lord Tennyson look like he has hoary white hair all over him.  It is also associated with the hawthorn tree when it is covered in white spring blossoms, but frankly I don't see that resemblance.

  Because then it might have looked something like this:

Lord Tennyson - Tower of Lincoln Cathedral

"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers" - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tiny Pink Tiara
So what's a girl to do, but to eat MORE cream puffs???

Fevrier/February was especially tough.  The second month of the Gregorian Calendar takes its name from the Latin word "Februa", which was a purification festival in ancient Rome at that time of the year.  The Hermit, The Moon and The Hanged Man popped up quite a few times in the readings I did for clients in February. The Three of Swords made guest appearances too with its gloomy clouds of doubt, obsession, isolation, self-defeat, confusion. People felt like they were in limbo and désorienté.  Which way to go? Hard to read the the signs or to see past the brouillard, the brume, the banc de brume--the foggy haze, miasma, sea mist, fog bank, pea soup.  I had to turn on my phares antibrouillard = the fog lights.

The way the trees looked in Villebois-Lavalette
Mistletoe in the Mist - Bouex

Snow kept falling and melting and turning to ice. Lots of things got canceled.  Life was on hold...what can you do when you can't see where you are going?  Squint harder?  Get a miner's light? 

The Cows in Ronsenac

Villebois looking like a watercolor through the mist

Villebois half-mist and stone

On February 23rd, Mecury went retrograde in Pisces; a time that challenges old patterns, limiting beliefs. We've got three weeks of Mercury messing with our heads and hearts till the Celtic Tiger rushes in on March 17th. Be alert to amplification/magnification of old wounds or crab pots of pity.  It's a good time for some psyche spring cleaning.  The Romans had it right with their purification festival.  What free radicals need to be burned off?  Sweep out the old cobwebs and be cautious around signing contracts.  This can be a cycle of growth.  When there is a traffic jam in the outer world, get out of your car and walk.  March is a good time for personal journeys to be mapped out. Shape your future. Get yourself a compass, a hula hoop and a slinky. 

The dreamy go with the flow, mystical qualities of Pisces are intensified. You might find it tricky to articulate your thoughts, or you could feel like you are in a Lina Wertmuller film, "Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August", or by tides of emotion that seem to have no external trigger.

Lina Wertmuller

Pour moi, I've had a flooding of visions and accelerated psychic activity accompanied by feelings of euphoria and boundarylessness.  A desire to merge with the sacred "All That Is".  There is a pull to dive down deeper and deeper, to explore previously uncharted territory--the danger (the bends, The Martini Effect) lying not in the descent, but in the ascent. The deeper a diver descends, the more slowly he/she must ascend in order to avoid nitrogen narcosis. Quelquefois, I don't want to return to Kansas or OZ. I want to find the pearl:  where does the soul reside when it isn't tap dancing around the ego?

Aya Takagi's Intensite de L'Instant - Exposition Elan - Universite Descartes, Paris, Oct. 2012

National Geographic - Diver exploring gap in ice in Antartica
 No More Cream Puffs or Profiteroles!
Queen of Hearts

 Tis better to have lived and lost, then never to have lived at all.