Feeling some madness…

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(Can you see this kite surfing guy’s feet and surfboard are out of the water?)

It rained a lot last night. Lots of rain, lots of wind. Teeny tiny bit of sleep. Not feeling too bubbly today. So I’m reminded of something Eckhart Tolle wrote “When you complain you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” It’s kinda nice to find patterns in the things you see and experience and relate them to the way you feel inside, isn’t it? I think so. I think it helps to understand the feelings inside.

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(This boat was just sitting on the beach this morning… could someone look up French salvage laws, please – we might own a boat)

So, here’s us having a nice old-time wandering around France, minding our own business. Loving the sun and the pleasant temperatures at this time of year. Then, the storms arrive. From nowhere they come…. And one might be tempted to whine and grumble. At home we might say “desperate weather, isn’t it?” to the postman or the assistant in the bank or the next door neighbour.

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(More doodling today)

In France I haven’t a clue how to say anything about the weather and when I consider looking it up (or asking Thierry) there’s no incentive to do so. There’s no good that can come out of telling the French people in the camper van next door that it’s raining… They already know. Sometimes it rains. Get over it. There’s at least four guys out on the water doing their kite surfing thing. They’re already wet so a bit of rain doesn’t bug them and the wind is very useful when you have a big huge kite.

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So how’s this relate to feelings? Sometimes we feel down, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s an insensitive friend, maybe it’s a disappointment – life can be very disappointing. So we talk to ourselves or others with words something like “desperate feeling, I’m having”. Maybe we whine a bit, grumble a bit and complain some. What if we had to translate our complaints into French (or Swahili if you’re fluent in French) would we bother? Like the rain, the feelings will be gone soon and like the wind for the kite surfers, they are useful – they remind us we’re alive!

Sure isn’t it great to be alive? Mairead.

Pictures in a Museum

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(The Jewish Cemetery is outside and photography is allowed here)

We went to the Jewish Museum yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny day and the streets were packed. The museum was also packed. It’s not an ordinary museum, it’s a synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue with small rooms and winding staircases. You have to get up close and personal with the other visitors. On entering you see the walls are covered in writing, very neat letters, names and dates of births and deaths, every space on every wall covered. There are 80,000 names. They are people who lived in the area that is now the Czech Republic during the second World War, but because they were Jewish they were killed. There are so many names it’s hard to take it in and anyway you don’t want to take it in, so you keep walking. It goes in on its own. Photography is not allowed in this part of the museum.

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(These are old graves)

I had heard there was an exhibition of children’s art upstairs in the museum and we went to see that. In 1941 the German occupying army started deporting Jewish people to a transit camp called Terezin, north of Prague. The church leaders deterred in the camp at the time considered it imperative to take care of the children, in a particular way. They wanted them to know about their heritage and they wanted to help them cope with their life in the camp. So there were lessons. Including art lessons.

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(It’s very crowded but a seed has managed to take root and is growing into a strong tree)

A lady called Friedl Dicker-Brandeis had studied art at the Bauhaus (one of her teachers was Paul Klee.) She was a painter and she took on the role of art teacher to the children. She was very clear in what she wanted the children to gain: understanding, communication, self-expression and a channel for their imagination and emotions. By the time she was transported to Auschwitz in 1944, she had hidden two suitcases full of children’s drawings (4,500). These were found after the war and given to the Jewish community. Photography is not allowed in this part of the museum either. The art in the glass cases show dormitories, guards, gates of the camp, and ordinary things like the sun, friends, flowers. Most of the pictures have an exhibit card that records the artist’s name, date of birth, of death and title of picture.

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Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor.

We’re leaving Prague today and travelling to Krakow, Mairead.

My bottle of Glue…


(There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light get’s in – Leonard Cohen.)

I bought a bottle of glue before we left Ireland. It’s almost empty. It has been the best glue I have ever used. Not that it’s much different from any other glue I’ve used but it’s been here with me through every creative effort, every insight every page of my journals. In a way you could say it’s really stuck by me – too obvious? Even so, it has. That glue kept me focussed on the thing I wanted to be doing.


(Green, white and gold – must be time to head home)

But back in week two when it was half-full (or half-empty…) I wondered how I would get some more here in France. I hadn’t seen an art and craft supply shop in the local town or even in the bigger towns we had visited. How would I manage without glue? And not just any glue, this particular magic kind of glue.


(All that’s left of my glue)

That worrying thought spent a lot of time wandering in and out of my thinking, distracting my focus, interrupting my intention. Should I cut down on my consumption? Should I order some from the internet? Should I ask one of my friends to post me a bottle of glue? I had heard there was a craft supply shop more than two hours drive away, should I go there?


(Free wind and heat to dry the sheets)

Fortunately, I got bored with the discussion (I was having with my thinking) and completely forgot about how little glue I had left and went back to focussing on what I wanted to be doing. And the glue rewarded my efforts and is still here with me in this last week (second last day…) It won’t be enough for next week but by then I will be able to get some more.


(Enough flowers for the bees)

And that got me thinking… What if there’s always enough. Enough glue, enough time, enough money, enough energy to do what needs to be done. No more that just enough. But also no less.

Could it be true? And what difference would it make if we believed it was true? Mairead.

Very quiet day here….

Didn’t do a lot yesterday, took the day off and read…. But I’ve included some previous day photos. In fact we have so many photos we could pretend we were still here for another month! Or maybe we are….

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(Another view of the Duomo.)

I was reading an article from the online version of the British Telegraph newspaper, it was written by a guy called Mic Wright, who lives in Dublin. The article was about how hard it is to be a writer nowadays. “The currency of the written word has been devalued”, there’s so much writing and it’s free. So why would anyone want to pay you to do it?

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(There are lots and lots of scooters)

I don’t know him but it sounds like he’s having a bad day. But if he stops writing I’d be sad because in that short article there was some beautiful words. For example, words  “spill forth from the internet like water from a broken valve”, yummy! He talks about telling his teenage self to give up the dream of being a writer, now I’m sad again.

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(Artist at work outside the Uffizi…. she reminded me of Nolene, and it could be Nolene! Hello New Zealand!)

But the saddest bit? The comments. They were some very cranky people commenting but that’s not the sad bit. The sad bit was one of the commenters was a parent with a seventeen year old son. The son wanted to be a writer. The parent needed the son to know that writing didn’t bring in money so it was not worth the son’s passion. He was going to send the article to his son, because he was “not prepared to support him until his 40’s.” I wanted to tell the parent that encouraging his son to follow his passion does not automatically lead to having to support him financially until he’s 40. And I want to tell him, please, encourage your son to follow his passion….. But I am not brave enough to comment on the site with the cranky commenters…

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(Giubbe Rosse bar/cafe in Piazza della Repubblica Florence, favourite haunt of writers over the years)

I think most people will agree with the parent and that makes me even sadder. So, I’ll stop now.

“The path will call to you, and you’ll find yourself on it. The way to begin is to stand…. waiting, waiting… breathlessly waiting.” Carlos Castaneda.

I’m off to ponder on the beauty of Florence, Mairead.

Imagine that!

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(1,213 year old leather buttons on Psalter at the National Museum)

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but Imagination!” – Albert Einstein

Let the daydreaming begin, Mairead.